Fri, Jun 10, 2005 - Page 10 News List

UMC head freed after interrogation

PROBE Prosecutors questioned Robert Tsao, United Microelectronics Corp chairman, about claims that his company had aided a Chinese semiconductor firm

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a marathon 12-hour interrogation session, prosecutors yesterday questioned United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) chairman Robert Tsao (曹興誠) about his company's alleged illegal investment in the Chinese semiconductor start-up He Jian Technology (Suzhou) Co (和艦).

Prosecutors suspect Tsao of violating the Securities and Exchange Law (證券交易法) by not properly disclosing details about UMC's alleged assistance and technological support to He Jian.

It was the latest step in the investigation into UMC, the world's second-largest contract chipmaker, after investigators raided its offices in mid-February.

"We only shared our experience with investing in the building of manufacturing plants with He Jian," Tsao told a press conference late last night after being released by prosecutors.

He said that UMC has neither invested in He Jian nor transferred any orders to the Chinese chipmaker.

But when asked whether UMC transferred patents to He Jian, Tsao said he has offered some details about this to investigators. He declined to elaborate.

In addition to Tsao, prosecutors plan to summon UMC vice chairman John Hsuan (宣明智) to explain the relationship between UMC and He Jian as soon as possible, said Tsai Tien-yuan (蔡添源), spokesman for the Hsinchu Prosecutors' Office.

No timeframe has been set for questioning Hsuan, Tsai said.

In April, the Financial Supervisory Commission fined Tsao NT$3 million (US$95,860) for his company's late disclosure of information regarding UMC's ties with He Jian.

Tsao was punished because he is the person responsible for UMC, the commission said at the time.

This was the first time that Tsao was questioned as a defendant after some UMC shareholders accused him of a breach of trust in March.

Tsao said in March that UMC only provided a consulting service to the Chinese chipmaker, and that it would obtain a 15 percent stake in He Jian in exchange for "past assistance."

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