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Chun claims seized insurance as inheritance

A confiscated insurance product belonging to the wife of former President Chun Doo-hwan has been purchased with assets inherited from her ancestors, a lawyer representing the couple said Tuesday.

As part of efforts to collect a massive fine that the former military dictator owes the state, prosecutors have seized a personal pension insurance policy worth 3 billion won ($2.68 million) that was opened under the name of former first lady Lee Soon-ja.

“I came here to pick up a document that can prove that the pension insurance opened under the name of Lee is an asset that was passed down in the family from previous generations,” the lawyer told reporters before entering the former president’s residence in western Seoul.

The seizure was part of intensifying efforts by the prosecution to find concealed assets of the former president, who was ordered by the top court in 1997 to return to the state coffers 220 billion won that he was found to have accumulated during his authoritarian rule from 1980 to 1988.

He has so far paid only a quarter of the total, with some 167.2 billion won remaining unpaid. He refused to make the payment, saying he was nearly penniless.

Chun, who has not appeared in public since the launch of a prosecution probe in May, reportedly handed over the document to his lawyer.

The insurance policy will only be turned over to the state if it is found to have been purchased with the former president’s slush funds.

A special investigative team within the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, meanwhile, said it has made official requests for major local insurance companies to provide information and data related to any contracts that they had signed with Chun’s family members, relatives and close aides.

Prosecutors suspect that assets of Chun might be concealed in diverse insurance products under the names of others.

In December 1979, Chun, then an army major general, led a military coup and filled a power vacuum created by the assassination of former President Park Chung-hee, the father of the current president, Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap News)
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