“IRS, Please Return My Withheld Assets”


A Korean-American man in Maryland has a considerable amount of personal money withheld by the IRS, and he is battling to retrieve his assets by taking the case to the court.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the man is Oh-suk Kwon, 73, who moved to the United States in 1976 with his family and worked as a technician for the Army before his decades-long career to this day. He purchased a gas station in 2007 with the earnings he has saved over the years in Ellicott City before the IRS chose to hold $59,117.47 of his money in 2011 for an alleged money laundering offense.

The IRS has failed to prove Kwon’s alleged crime but has yet to return his money.

In the end, Kwon filed for bankruptcy as his gas station struggled financially due to scarce financial resources. Not too long after, Kwon’s wife passed away after battling cancer.

“When I came to the U.S., I had to do something for the country,” Kwon told the Washington Post. “My whole life was work, work, work.”

The IRS has cited the Bank Secrecy Act, a law passed in 1970, which requires banks to report any transactions bigger than $10,000. Under the law, Kwon was accused of a structuring charge, a practice among money launderers who divvy up their money into multiple accounts to prevent themselves from the banking authorities.

However, Kwon’s attorney Edward Griffin argued that the accusation from the IRS is simply not true. Kwon has indicated that he only chose to follow the advice of his banker who suggested that he should make multiple deposits of under $10,000 to avoid being subject to strict investigations.

“Of all the cases I have worked on, this one stands out for me,” said Griffin. I firmly believe that the government did wrong in choosing to persecute Mr. Kwon and seize his assets. There was no good policy purpose for the prosecution. They did for money, and they destroyed a good and honest man. It is shameful. Which is why I am fighting for him.”

The IRS is still firmly standing by its belief that Kwon is accused of a structuring case and that its seizure of his money is completely lawful.

By Woosoo Lee