Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Koo Jr resigns as vice chairman of holding company

STEPPING DOWN The high-profile banker gave up his Chinatrust Financial positions after an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to answer a subpoena

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) Vice Chairman Jeffery Koo Jr (辜仲諒) stepped down yesterday, one day after prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for the banker, who is alleged to have masterminded illegal transactions during the company's attempt to acquire larger rival Mega Financial Holding Co (兆豐金控).

Chinatrust Financial, the nation's seventh-largest financial group by assets, said in a statement released yesterday that it had received Koo's resignation from the board seat representing shareholder Kuan He Development (寬和開發) as well as his vice chairmanship.

Koo's vice chairmanship will remain vacant as no replacement had been decided on at the moment, a member of the company's public affairs staff said in a telephone interview.

Kuan He Development assigned Huang Pi-ting (黃丕庭) to take Koo's place as its representative on the board of Chinatrust Financial, the statement read.

Huang, a 76-year-old retired lawyer, previously served as legal consultant to a slew of financial institutions controlled by the Koo family, including Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中國信託商銀), China Life Insurance Co (中國人壽) and KGI Securities Co (中信證券).

Koo stepped aside as chairman of Chinatrust Commercial Bank on July at the demand of financial regulators as one of the administrative penalties for the bank's misuse of funds during its attempted takeover of Mega Financial.

The scandal-plagued banker -- a defendant in the judicial probe into the company's disputed investment -- failed to return to Taiwan last week after finishing his two-month Eisenhower Fellowship program in the US and ignored subpoenas twice without a valid excuse, leading prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for him on Thursday.

Koo reportedly flew back to the US from Japan after visiting his children in Tokyo on Wednesday. He could be placed on the wanted list as early as the end of this month, an order that would not expire for 25 years, if prosecutors are unable to arrest him.

Three of Chinatrust Financial's senior executives were taken into custody last month by prosecutors over their roles in the scandal.

Prosecutors said the investigation could lead to a variety of charges, including breach of trust, illegal trading and violation of the Banking Act (銀行法).

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