Sun, May 15, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Court rules against James Soong over his tax evasion

MONEY LAUNDERING?The Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal came back to haunt the People First Party chairman, as he lost one of several pending lawsuits

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) must pay NT$2.82 million (US$90,000) in back taxes and fines after depositing a total of US$480,000 in his son's bank account in the US.

The Supreme Administrative Court said the US$480,000 was unused funds from Soong's campaigns in 1995 and 1997 for Taiwan provincial governor, and that the money counted as his personal property.

"Because Soong put his personal property into his son's accounts in the US, it should be treated as a gift, and therefore Soong needs to pay gift taxes and a fine to the nation," the court ruling said.

Soong told the court that he often paid visits to foreign countries when serving as Taiwan provincial governor from 1995 to 1998. Because he did not attain public funding for the foreign tours, he sent his own money to his son, Soong Chen-yuan (宋鎮遠) in the US for use during the tours, Soong said.

The ruling said that if Soong thought the money was not a gift for his son, then he should have proved it to the court. But Soong provided little evidence to the court, so it had no choice but to rule against him, the ruling said.

The court said Soong ran for and won the office of Taiwan provincial governor in 1994.

He asked his mother-in-law to send US$150,000 to his son in the US in 1995, and then asked a friend surnamed Lee to deposit US$330,000 in his son's bank account in 1997.

The total was US$480,000, the court added.

Because of Soong's role in the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal (興票案), in which he was accused of embezzling millions of US dollars from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Taipei Prosecutor's Office and Ministry of Finance had investigated his personal finances and discovered that Soong had sent more than NT$200 million to relatives' accounts. The money he sent is thought to be surplus campaign funds, as well as cash he skimmed from the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) accounts.

In addition to the lawsuit ruling on Friday, Soong still faces five cases involving unpaid taxes and fines. Those cases have yet to be ruled on by the court.

One of the cases involves allegations that Soong stole money from the KMT and used it to buy US bonds in his son's name. Soong has claimed that the money was to be used as a gift for members of Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) family in the US, and says he did not steal the money.

However, the Ministry of Finance has filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Administrative Court, asking Soong to pay NT$90 million in taxes and fines for his purchases of US bonds, but the case has yet to be resolved.

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