Sun, Feb 07, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Prosecutors release Taishin chief

QUESTIONSThomas Wu is suspected of paying a large sum of money to the former first lady at a time when the bank was planning to invest in Chang Hwa Bank

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The chairman of one of Taiwan’s largest banks, Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控), was released early yesterday after being questioned by the Supreme Prosecutors Office for suspected involvement in the alleged corruption scandal of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Thomas Wu (吳東亮), chairman of Taishin, was suspected of paying a substantial sum of money as bribery to former president Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), as the private bank was planning to invest in the state-owned Chang Hwa Bank (彰化銀行) when the ­government was implementing a second phase of financial reforms and encouraging mergers of monetary institutions.

Wu was called in for questioning by the Special Investigative Division of the prosecutors’ office after dozens of investigators made surprise raids at Taishin bank’s headquarters and Wu’s residence in Taipei on Friday afternoon upon the closing of the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

Four others suspected of involvement in the case were taken to the prosecutor’ office for questioning.

Shares of Taishin Financial slid 6.99 percent to NT$10.65 (US$0.33) yesterday, the lowest since May 19.

Local media have reported that in the former first lady’s statement to the Special Investigative Division last February, Wu Shu-jen claimed that the hundreds of millions she had deposited at the safe of Cathay United Bank (國泰世華銀行) since 2006 were contributed by 20 executives of Taiwanese banks, high-tech firms and media organizations, among which NT$100 million was paid by Thomas Wu.

Taishin holds a 22.5 percent stake in Chang Hwa Bank and is its largest shareholder.

Taishin has been targeted by investigators since the bank was mentioned in the Cabinet’s ­“second-phase monetary reform review report” released last February.

The report indicated that when Taishin was in the process of acquiring special shares of Chang Hwa Bank, its debt ratio was relatively high.

Some financial specialists also said it did not make sense for Chang Hwa to be merged with Taishin because Chang Hwa was in good financial health at the time of the proposed merger, whereas Taishin was not, meaning that Taishin was in no position to buy the state-owned financial institution.

Before Friday’s questioning, the Taishin chairman had twice been summoned by the investigators as a witness in the money laundering and bribery cases involving the former first family.

He has claimed that Taishin was helping the government settle problems when it acquired shares of Chang Hwa, and had abided by legal procedures.

Thomas Wu had also denied involvement in the money laundering or bribery case.

In a similar case, the Special Investigative Division in December indicted executives of Cathay United Bank and Yuanta Financial Holding Co (元大金控), which were accused of bribing the former first lady in order to “smooth” government requirements to merge with Fuhwa Financial Holding Co (復華金控).

This story has been viewed 5721 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top