Fri, Oct 03, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Ma admits more visits to Fubon's private club

CONNECTIONS The Taipei mayor was forced to concede he had been to the club five times rather than the two or three times he mentioned when asked on Wednesday

STAFF WRITER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday acknowledged that he visited Fubon Financial Holding Co's private club five times, rather than the two or three times he said on Wednesday, as a dispute over his connections to the company refused to die down.

Ma had denied a claim by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Lo Chung-shen (羅宗勝) that he was planning to sell the city's shares in Fubon too cheaply and had visited the private club at least 10 times to discuss a deal with company executives.

The mayor had said he had visited the club only two or three times to dine with people who contributed to the merger of TaipeiBank and Fubon last year.

The Taipei City Government said yesterday afternoon that Ma actually went to the club five times: three times to meet with Fubon president Tsai Ming-chung (蔡明忠) and twice to deal with non-Fubon related matters.

"I am sorry that the city government could not release the correct information the first time and caused so much confusion," Ma said yesterday. "I have also ordered all city government employees, including myself, to stop going to private companies' clubs in future for business socialization purposes."

According to the city government, Fubon invited Ma twice, on Sept. 16 last year and Aug. 11 this year.

The other time he met Tsai at the club was on Feb. 27 this year, at the invitation of Goldman Sachs, which was consulting the city government on the merger between TaipeiBank and Fubon.

The other two times Ma went to the club were to meet the Shing-sheng Elementary School parents' association and to meet members of the Dwen An Social Welfare Foundation (敦安基金會).

Lo, who claimed on Wednesday that Ma had been to the club at least 10 times, yesterday revised his estimate down to six times, but did not elaborate.

Taipei City acquired a 15 percent stake in Fubon as part of the privatization of TaipeiBank, which the city owned, last December.

Ma has announced plans to reduce the city's stake to 9 percent by selling Fubon shares to fill a hole in the city government's finances for next year.

City councilors said they were worried Ma would sell the shares too cheaply and that he had cut some kind of deal with Fubon.

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