The National Police Agency is seeking to repatriate a Taiwanese man after it emerged that he and his wife fled to China after allegedly faking their deaths in Taiwan 12 years ago, allowing their children to claim accidental death benefits of NT$64.82 million (US$2.2 million at current exchange rates).
The couple, surnamed Hsu (許), went missing after their car seemingly plunged from Provincial Highway No. 2, also known as the Coastal Highway, as they headed for Yilan County during a typhoon on July 29, 2001.
The couple’s three children made a claim with Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽). The insurer paid out, but later tried to recoup the payment.
The firm appealed to prosecutors, suspecting the couple might have fled to China, but prosecutors did not pursue the case.
The insurer cited data from the Central Weather Bureau and eyewitness testimony as evidence that the weather could not have caused the car to fall from the highway. It also cited data showing that the couple’s children had large debts.
However, the court ruled that the possibility of the couple’s bodies disappearing into the ocean due to a car crash could not be excluded and that the insurer should pay NT$64.82 million in insurance claims.
The company appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court’s ruling on Thursday.
However, in a dramatic turn of events, news surfaced on the same day that the couple had fled to China and lived there under false identities until their cover was blown when the wife died earlier this year.
Local media quoted law enforcement sources as saying that the couple and their children may have staged the accident in a bid to defraud the insurance company, adding that the wife reportedly died in China in May, which led the Chinese police to discover the couple’s real identities.
The insurance company could seek a retrial based on the Code of Civil Procedure (民事訴訟法) if it secures new evidence, it was reported.