Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Accountants sent to Asia Pacific to serve as auditors

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and the National Communications Commission (NCC) announced yesterday they will send independent accountants to serve as auditors at Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom Co (亞太固網), a unit of the scandal-embroiled Rebar Asia Pacific Group (力霸亞太企業集團).

The government's latest move came after prosecutors raided the headquarters of Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom on Monday on suspicion that approximately NT$29.5 billion (US$899.6 million) of funds raised by the company had been embezzled.

"So far, the finances and daily operation of Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom have been normal," Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-hsiang (施顏祥) told a press conference last night.

How long the auditors will stay at Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom depends on future development at the company, he said.

Gary Wang (王令麟), chairman of Rebar-related Eastern Multimedia Group (東森多媒體), is suspected of embezzling funds from Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom, Chinese-language media reports said.

In response to the speculation and to safeguard shareholders' interests, NCC chairman Su Yeong-ching (蘇永欽) said in the legislature earlier yesterday that the NCC had set up an ad hoc committee to supervise the operations of the company.

The government holds a 17.21 percent stake in Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom through state agency Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA, 台鐵), state-run Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐國際商銀) and China Steel Corp (中鋼).

Of the 33 seats on the board of Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom, TRA controls five and Mega International one.

China Steel originally had one seat, but resigned the position on Jan. 12 after suggestions in improving corporate governance were ignored by the board.

The measures were agreed by Wang Lin-tai (王令台), vice chairman of Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom, who is in charge of Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom, after chairwoman Chin She-ying (王金世英) fled overseas with her husband, Wang You-theng (王又曾), chairman of the Rebar Group.

Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom, with registered capital of NT$65.68 billion, obtained the license to operate fixed-line telecom services on Jan. 19, 2001.

It has 1,383 employees and posted a net income of NT$417 million as of the end of November last year.

Along with subsidiaries Asia Pacific Broadband Wireless Communications Inc (亞太行動寬頻) and Internet service provider Asia Pacific Online Services Inc (亞太線上), the company has 1.38 million users and posted an annual revenue of NT$10.5 billion last year, the company said in a statement.

It expects to see the figure exceed NT$18.5 billion this year, the statement said.

Once Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom suspends its operation, the NCC will help consumers transfer to other service providers, NCC vice chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said at the press conference.

As of the end of last month, the company had 150,000 home telephone subscribers.

The users will be able to shift to other fixed-line providers, such as Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), with relative ease, Shyr said.

Telecom regulations say that telecom companies need to apply for termination of service three months ahead, giving users sufficient time to switch to other service providers, Shyr said.

Government Information Office Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang

(鄭文燦) yesterday said that both customers' and cooperative companies'

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