Thu, Aug 09, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Wang You-theng's legal status in US unclear after release

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

The status of Rebar Asia Pacific Group (力霸亞太企業集團) founder Wang You-theng (王又曾), who was released from an immigration detention center in the US on Tuesday, has yet to be resolved, an American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesman said yesterday.

"US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is now determining the next appropriate steps in the case of Wang You-theng. His status in the United States has yet to be finally resolved," AIT spokeman Thomas Hodges said.

"Further questions about Mr Wang's case should be directed to the US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement," he said.

Wang is suspected of having embezzled approximately NT$60 billion (US$1.8 billion) in corporate funds from the group before fleeing with his wife, Wang Chin She-ying (王金世英), to China late last year and then to the US in January this year.

Wang had been detained by US immigration authorities since Feb. 2, when he tried to return to Los Angeles despite both his Taiwanese and Dominican Republic passports having been canceled, following a failed attempt to go to Myanmar.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a press conference yesterday morning that Wang had been released from the immigration detention center in San Pedro, California.

Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said the ministry had obtained information about the case and he was not surprised at Wang You-theng's release.

Huang stressed that Wang had merely been released on bail and that the legal process had not yet been concluded.

He said the ministry would continue to communicate through "appropriate channels" to follow the case's development.

When asked whether he was worried that Wang You-theng might flee to another country, Huang said that his ministry had faith in the US justice system.

Deputy Minister of Justice Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) told a separate press conference yesterday that the Ministry of Justice would not abandon its efforts to have Wang You-theng repatriated from the US to face criminal charges.

The Ministry of Justice has since January been supplying US authorities with comprehensive information on the Wangs' alleged criminal activities in Taiwan, Lee said.

The ministry sent a copy of Wang You-theng's indictment to US authorities in March in hopes that the couple would be repatriated to Taiwan.

On March 8, Taipei prosecutors asked for a prison sentence of 30 years and an unprecedented fine of NT$1.71 billion for Wang You-theng as they indicted him on several charges, including embezzlement.

Eight members of his family were also indicted on six different charges, in addition to 98 employees of the Rebar Group.

Wang Chin She-ying was indicted with her husband. She faces a NT$710 million fine and 28 years in prison if convicted.

Wang You-theng and his wife were declared wanted fugitives by Taipei prosecutors on Jan. 25.

The arrest warrant for Wang Chin She-ying is valid for 25 years.

Four of Wang You-theng's six sons -- Wang Lin-i (王令一), Wang Lin-tai (王令台), Lawrence Wang (王令興) and Wang Lin-chiao (王令僑) -- as well as his younger brother, Frank Wang (王事展), were indicted in March and have been detained by the Taipei District Court since January.

Meanwhile, Wang You-theng's son Gary Wang (王令麟), chairman of Eastern Multimedia Group, was detained on July 17 on suspicion of illegal activities including embezzlement and bid rigging. His case is still under investigation.

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