Sat, Jul 07, 2007 - Page 1 News List

KMT threatens Lee over asset losses

SEEKING `ACCOUNTABILITY' The Culture and Communications Committee chairman said 10 problematic deals had been found from the 12 years Lee was head of the party

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday it might sue former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) for mishandling its assets when he was party chairman.

The threat comes in the wake of Lee's endorsement of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) campaign for a referendum on recovering the KMT's stolen assets.

Lee, who served as KMT chairman from 1988 to 2000, signed the DPP's signature drive in support of the proposed referendum in April.

The KMT took over numerous assets from the Japanese colonial government and seized assets from private businesses and individuals when it took control of Taiwan at the end of World War II.

KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairman Yang Tu (楊渡) said yesterday that the party's Asset Handling and Monitoring Committee had discovered 10 problematic deals from when Lee was head of the KMT and it had asked its lawyers to investigate the cases.

"There were so many asset deals during the 12 years Lee was chairman. We have to clarify the responsibility," Yang said at KMT headquarters.

"Each deal has its problems, and so we will have lawyers look into the cases and may seek a solution through litigation or negotiations," he said, although he refused to say if the party would sue Lee.

The KMT's party asset report released last August blamed Lee for NT$42.7 billion (US$1.309 billion) in losses through bad investments.

KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the asset committee -- which was formed last September -- has been reviewing controversial deals, and the party would establish who should bear legal responsibility for bad investments and seek compensation for its losses.

"The [asset] committee has established regulations to look into possible mishandled deals. It was not targeted at any specific individual," Ma said after attending a municipal event at Taipei's Wanfang Hospital.

He refused to say whether a move against Lee would conflict with his plan to attract votes with a campaign strategy based on respecting Lee.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday the party should "make an overall assessment" before taking action.

"The party shouldn't give any individual a free hand in handling the matter," Wang said.

But KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said the party should have conducted an investigation into the losses a long time ago.

"To determine responsibility has nothing to do with targeting a specific individual. It's only a matter of discovering the truth," she said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said the KMT's actions were aimed at winning upcoming elections.

If the KMT really wanted to conduct a full investigation into the handling of its assets, Lee could not be the only one investigated, she said.

Lai demanded the KMT make public a complete history of all its assets -- how it acquired them, how it managed them and who bought them.

KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) later last night said the party had no plans to sue Lee.

He did say, however, that some members of the Asset Handling and Monitoring Committee felt that Lee should be sued for his alleged mishandling of KMT assets.

KMT headquarters has not received a report from the panel regarding a decision to sue Lee, if it has indeed come to a conclusion on the issue, he added.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and CNA

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