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Press Release

United States Assists Korean Authorities in Recovering Over $28.7 Million In Corruption Proceeds of Former President of the Republic of Korea

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice has reached a settlement of its civil forfeiture cases against $1.2 million in assets in the United States traceable to corruption proceeds accumulated by Chun Doo Hwan, the former president of the Republic of Korea.  The department also assisted the government of the Republic of Korea in recovering an additional $27.5 million in satisfaction of an outstanding criminal restitution order against former President Chun. 

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Director Sarah R. Saldaña of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)­­ and Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement after the settlement was signed and papers requesting that the court execute the agreement were filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

“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,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “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.”       

“Former Korean President Chun violated the trust of the people of Korea,” said Director Saldaña.  “The results in this case reflect the outstanding international cooperation that exists between U.S. law enforcement and the government of Korea.”

"The U.S. will not idly standby and serve as a money laundering haven for foreign officials to hide corrupt activities,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich.  “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.”

According to court documents, President Chun was convicted in Korea in 1997 of receiving more than $200 million in bribes from Korean businesses and companies.  President Chun and his relatives laundered some of these corruption proceeds through a web of nominees, trusts and shell companies in both Korea and the United States.

Under the terms of the U.S. settlement, $1,116,951.45 in assets will be forfeited to the United States.  During the joint U.S.-Korean investigation, approximately $27.5 million in additional funds were paid by an associate of former President Chun to the Korean government to partially settle the judgment entered against former President Chun upon his criminal conviction.  Including the settlement announced today, the U.S. and Korean authorities have recovered more than $28.7 million in connection with Korea’s investigation and prosecution of former President Chun.   

The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI’s West Covina Resident Agency of the Los Angeles Division, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Philadelphia Office, HSI's Attaché in Seoul, South Korea and the FBI Kleptocracy Program of the International Corruption Unit within the Criminal Investigation Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Woo S. Lee and Della Sentilles of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katharine Schonbachler and Steven R. Welk of the Central District of California, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Minni and Alvin Stout of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial support.

The department is grateful for the significant assistance provided by the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutor’s Office, Korea’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office - Anti-Corruption Supervisory Division and the Ministry of Justice’s International Criminal Affairs Division in investigating and forfeiting these corruption proceeds.

This case was brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, return those proceeds to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office.  Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to

Chun Executed Agreement

Chun Notice of Settlement

Updated March 4, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-266