Thu, Jul 26, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Sunny Bank loans scandal defendants let out on bail

PARTY PROBE DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said Hsueh Ling and Chen Shen-hung, both party members, had been referred to the integrity committee for investigation

By Rich Chang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator-at-large Hsueh Ling (薛凌) and her husband, Sunny Bank (陽信銀行) chairman Chen Shen-hung (陳勝宏), were yesterday released on NT$10 million (US$300,000) bail each after being charged with involvement in an alleged loans scandal at the bank.

Chen is also a member of the DPP's Central Standing Committee

Shilin District Prosecutors' Office spokesman Miao Zhuo-ran (繆卓然) said prosecutors suspected Sunny Bank had made a number of illegal loans, worth at least NT$460 million.

The prosecutors' office originally requested the Shilin District Court to detain the couple and two other bank officials. The court last night decided to release the four on bail after a nine-hour hearing.

Prosecutors requested the detention of Hsueh Ling, Chen and two other bank officials for violations of the Banking Act (銀行法) because prosecutors believe the suspects would be likely to conspire if they were able to meet and talk before making their statements, Miao told a press conference yesterday.

The Shilin District Court, however, ruled that it was not necessary to detain them, Miao said.

The two other bank officials, board members Lin Ching-lung (林金隆) and Liu Chen-sheng (劉振陞), were released on NT$2 million and NT$3 million bail, respectively.

Miao said the Shilin District Court last month had ordered the detention of Hsueh Ling's brother, Hsueh Tsung-hsien (薛宗賢), also on suspicion of being involved in the loans.

Prosecutors suspect Hsueh Tsung-hsien bought a building from the Chinese-language Chunghwa Daily (中華日報) newspaper in Taipei for approximately NT$400 million. He is alleged to have forged the contract, raising the sale price to NT$500 million.

Prosecutors allege Hsueh Tsung-hsien then took the forged contract to Sunny Bank and requested a loan against the real estate deal.

Prosecutors suspect Hsueh Ling, her husband and the two officials knew the contract was forged, and that they conspired with Hsueh Tsung-hsien by authorizing the loan.

Prosecutors allege that the bank also granted Hsueh Tsung-hsien several other loans and that hundreds of millions of the bank's money had been embezzled by the Hsueh family.

Prosecutors said they were trying to determine exactly how much money they believe the family stole from the bank.

Asked by reporters for comment, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said the party had referred Hsueh Ling and Chen to the party's integrity committee for investigation.

The party headquarters would not interfere in the committee's investigation, but the investigation should be concluded in a timely fashion, Yu said. He did not elaborate.

If the result of the investigation was not in their favor, the party would punish them as per the party's regulations, Yu said, but declined to detail what that punishment could be.

Yu was also unwilling to clarify whether Hsueh Ling would lose her legislator-at-large position or her nomination as a legislator-at-large for next year's election as a result of her alleged involvement in the case.

In accordance with the Additional Articles of the Constitution, no member of the Legislative Yuan may be arrested or detained without the permission of the Legislative Yuan, while the body is in session, except in a case of flagrante delicto.

Hsueh Ling and her husband maintained their innocence last night.

She said the embezzlement allegation was irrational because the bank had earned lots of interest on the loans and had not lost a cent.

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