Wed, May 03, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Evidence seized in Chung Shing bank scandal

INVESTIGATION Armed with a search warrant, justice ministry investigators searched for materials relating to the Taiwan Pineapple bad loan case. Recent evidence has implicated top-level bank officials

By Jou Ying-Cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH AGENCIES

Investigators from the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau visited the Taipei headquarters of the scandal-ridden Chung Shing Bank (中興銀行), and seized materials relating to a case involving the over-extension of credit to the Taiwan Pineapple Corporation.

Prosecutors denied, however, that their action yesterday constituted a "raid", maintaining it was intended only to "collect" (調閱) materials -- in a non-compulsory way -- that were relevant to the case. They did, however, come provided with a search warrant.

National media, however, later in the day reported that investigators now have reliable evidence that Wang Yu-yun (王玉雲), the president of the Chung Shing Bank and other members of the bank's board of directors, were the leading figures behind the illegal loan case. Prosecutors refused to respond to the reports.

The scandal involving the bank broke last week when an investigation into the bank's affairs started amid suspicions that the bank had extended credit to the Taiwan Pineapple Corporation (台鳳公司) -- much of it uncollateralized -- to the tune of NT$840 million.

Wang Shuen-ren (王宣仁), former general manager of Chung Shing Bank, was detained on orders from the Taipei District Court last Saturday. During questioning, he reportedly maintained that the size of the loans was such that he did not have the authority to grant them himself and that the whole affair was conducted under Wang Yu-yun's instructions.

Prosecutors are now investigating the possibility that the top leadership of Chung Shing took under-the-table payments from Taiwan Pineapple in return for extending the loans.

MJIB officers yesterday went to Chung Shing's Taipei headquarters armed with a search warrant issued by prosecutor Wang Wen-teh (王文德) from the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office to collect account books in which the loans were recorded, as well as videotapes recording the loan procedures, according to media reports yesterday.

The MJIB officers took away three large cartons of supposedly related materials, but prosecutors refused to discuss the contents of what was taken.

Chang Wen-cheng (張文政), deputy prosecutor general of the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, said however that the MJIB was merely collecting materials, disagreeing with the term "search" (搜索) used by the media.

"The idea was just to collect some documents, and if the bank did not cooperate, then the investigators would show them the warrant and search," Chang said.

Investigation Bureau officials, meanwhile, said they have requested Huang Tsung-hung (黃宗宏), the chairman of Taiwan Pineapple, to come in person to explain the loans. If Huang did not come voluntarily, they would petition the prosecution for an arrest warrant.

Amid expectations that the case could snowball and that higher-ranking people from Chung Shing Bank could be found to be involved, Chang Wen-cheng, stressed that until now, there are only two people who stand accused of improprieties -- Wang Shuen-ren and Wu Pi-yun (吳碧雲), the former manager of Chung Shing's Tienmu (天母) branch.

Wang Wen-teh also said that it has yet to be decided if or when he would summon Wang Yu-yun for questioning.

After the raid, Wang Chih-hsiung (王志雄), a Kaohsiung City councilor, the son of Wang Yu-yun and a member of the bank's board of directors, went to the MJIB's Taipei branch. When asked by the press, he said that he had come to photocopy some documents taken by investigators from the bank for his father, so that the latter could be prepared for the coming investigation.

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