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U.S. forfeiting $1.2 million in assets of ex-President Chun

The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday it is forfeiting about $1.1 million in U.S. assets traceable to proceeds from corruption accumulated by former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan and returning it to Seoul.

The assets, seized on two occasions last year, consist of $726,000 in proceeds from the sale of a house that Chun's son purchased in California, and a $500,000 investment that a daughter-in-law of Chun made in a Pennsylvania limited partnership.

The department said it has also helped South Korea recover $27.5 million in Chun's assets in Korea and elsewhere, without elaborating on the nature of the assets.

This is the first case in which the U.S. has returned laundered money to South Korea, Seoul's justice ministry said.

"Chun Doo-hwan's campaign of corruption and bribery while serving as Korea's president betrayed the trust of the Korean people, deprived Korea's government of precious resources and undermined the rule of law," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement.

"Fighting corruption is a global imperative that demands a coordinated global response. The close cooperation between the United States and Korea in successfully recovering corruption proceeds stands as a testament to our resolve to battle the scourge of corruption through international collaboration," she said.

David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, also said the U.S. will not idly stand by and serve as a money laundering haven for foreign officials to hide corrupt activities.

"The FBI will continue to collaborate with our foreign partners by leveraging its resources in order to identify those engaged in foreign corruption and to recover their ill-gotten gains," he said. (Yonhap)