US seizes assets tied to ex-Korean president Chun Doo Hwan

In this 2009 file photo, Former South Korean president Chun Doo-Hwan offers a flower to the late former President Kim Dae-Jung at the memorial altar for Kim in a hospital in Seoul. US authorities said September 3, 2014 that they had seized a half-mil
In this 2009 file photo, Former South Korean president Chun Doo-Hwan offers a flower to the late former President Kim Dae-Jung at the memorial altar for Kim in a hospital in Seoul. US authorities said September 3, 2014 that they had seized a half-million dollars' worth of assets linked to corruption by former South Korean president Chun Doo Hwan. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US authorities said Wednesday that they had seized a half-million dollars' worth of assets linked to corruption by former South Korean president Chun Doo Hwan.

The Justice Department said it has taken control of a US$500,000 (Sing$626,000) investment by Chun's daughter-in-law in a Pennsylvania company - adding to $726,000 seized in February from a California real estate sale by Chun's son.

The former leader, now 83, seized power after the 1979 assassination of longtime military ruler Park Chung-Hee, and led the country for eight turbulent years marred by extensive corruption.

In a judgment confirmed by South Korea's Supreme Court in 1997, Chun was convicted of insurrection and corruption and ordered to pay 220 billion won (Sing$271 million) in restitution to the South Korean state.

"President Chun amassed more than $200 million in bribes while in office, and he and his relatives systematically laundered these funds through a complex web of transactions in the United States and Korea," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. Caldwell said that US justice authorities "will use every available means to deny corrupt foreign officials and their relatives safe haven for their assets in the United States".