Taiwan could soon file a complaint against France over alleged illegal commissions and kickbacks surrounding the 1992 sale of 60 Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft, reports said yesterday.
The news comes a little more than six months after defense company Thales wired US$875 million into a Taiwanese government bank account following a decade-long legal battle over kickbacks and illegal commissions for the US$2.5 billion sale by Thomson-CSF (which became Thales in 2000) of six Lafayette-class frigates to the Taiwanese navy in 1991.
Taiwanese authorities said the documents supporting claims that illegal commissions and kickbacks were paid to arms brokers in the Mirage sale were classified and in the possession of the Ministry of National Defense, adding that their content could not currently be made public.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
The International Court of Arbitration will go through the documents to determine whether the sale — part of a project codenamed Tango, which also included spare parts, maintenance and upgrades for the aircraft — involved illegal commissions and kickbacks. If the court rules that such activity did take place, France could reportedly face fines of as much as 1 billion euros (US$1.3 billion).
According to French media, the initial contract for 48 Mirage 2000-5Ei interceptors and 12 Mirage 2000-5D twin-seat trainers in 1992 amounted to 22.8 billion francs (US$4.53 billion at the time), with Dassault Aviation and Thomson-CSF as the principal contractors and Matra providing the weapons systems.
However, Taiwan paid an additional 6 billion francs for the aircraft, a discrepancy that prompted the Control Yuan in 2002 to recommend that a probe be launched. The 6 billion francs could represent the amount paid in illegal commissions and kickbacks, reports said.
The Taiwanese air force announced in May 2010 that a review of the Mirage contract had been started. Reports at the time said Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), one of the arms dealers used as an intermediary in the Lafayette scandal, might also have played a role in the Mirage sale.
According to information that could not be independently verified, French officials discreetly approached the administration of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) after 2002 to ask it to cancel any legal procedures against French defense contractors over the Lafayette and Mirage sales.
The Mirage aircraft, which remain in service, are all based in Hsinchu.
The Bureau Francais de Taipei yesterday refused to comment on the matter, telling the Taipei Times it was closely following developments on the issue.
The Paris-based Court of Arbritation last night would not confirm whether Taiwan had filed a complaint over the Mirage deal, saying that all arbitration cases were confidential.
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten