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Legislators push for special law to confiscate Choi family assets

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing for a special law to investigate and confiscate assets illegally accumulated by Choi Soon-sil, the arrested confidante of former President Park Geun-hye.

Revealed at a press conference Tuesday, the bill envisions the forming of a special investigative committee to look into the assets of not just Choi, but all those who played a role in the corruption scandal involving the former president. Once identified, illegal proceeds would be confiscated, with court-issued seizure warrants.

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

“This law intends to get rid of any kind of corruption and is not about political dispositions,” Rep. An Min-suk of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, one of the 23 lawmakers behind the bill, said during a briefing at the National Assembly.

He said the Choi family had accumulated an “astronomical amount” through their decadeslong relationship with Park.

Park’s father is the late Park Chung-hee who ruled South Korea with an iron fist for 18 years.

The lawmaker, who has been trailing the sources of Choi’s hidden assets since the scandal broke last year, said Choi had stashed them away in the form of cash, real estate and stocks in countries across Europe.

In March, upon concluding his probe into the scandal, Special Counsel Park Young-soo estimated Choi’s assets to be some 23 billion won ($20 million) and the combined fortune of the family of late Choi Tae-min -- Choi’s father and a cult leader with whom the former president had a close relationship -- to be a whopping 273 billion won.

Rep. An described the amount revealed by the special counsel as only the “tip of an iceberg,” calling for further investigation.

Choi Soon-sil is currently standing trial alongside Park Geun-hye on allegations that they colluded to extort funds from conglomerates. Choi is alleged to have exerted influence on Park, such as in the former president’s appointments of key government posts. The allegations led to Park’s ouster from power in March.

Other legislators who have joined efforts for the bill’s enactment include Reps. Park Young-sun of the ruling Democratic Party, Kim Kyung-jin of the centrist People’s Party and Lee Hye-hoon of the conservative splinter Bareun Party.

Before officially tabling the bill, the group plans to gather signatures from more lawmakers.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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