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Prosecution raids ex-president's house over unpaid fines

State prosecutors on Tuesday raided the residence of former President Chun Doo-hwan as part of their move to collect a massive amount of unpaid fines levied on him for amassing large sums of secret funds during his presidency in the 1980s.

Chun was ordered by a court in 1997 to return to the state coffers the 220 billion won (US$195 million) he was found to have illegally accumulated during his term. But he refused to make the payment, saying he was almost penniless.

He has so far paid only a quarter of the total, with some 167.2 billion won remaining unpaid.

A team of nearly 90 investigators and prosecutors of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office and the National Tax Service raided Chun's residence in eastern Seoul to seize properties.

The prosecutors also seized computer disks and relevant documents during the raids on the headquarters of firms suspected of hiding Chun's assets and properties.

In May, the prosecution formed a task force for 100 days in an effort to collect the unpaid fines, vowing to mobilize all possible means.

The prosecutors' move comes amid mounting public frustration over lax enforcement of major fines as well as a sense of urgency since the statute of limitations in Chun's case was to expire in October.

The National Assembly in June passed a bill aimed at extending the statute of limitations on forfeiting and imposing fines on public officials' illegal wealth from three years to 10.

Under the revised law, Chun will be required to pay the remainder of his fines by October 2020, not October this year.

Chun came to power in a military coup in December 1979 amid political chaos following the assassination of President Park Chung-hee, the father of current President Park Geun-hye. Chun was sworn in as the country's president in February 1981 after quelling a civil uprising in Gwangju, about 330 kilometers south of Seoul, in May 1980. (Yonhap News)
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