The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee yesterday ordered the National Women’s League (NWL) to return NT$38.7 billion (US$1.26 billion) of its assets to the state within 30 days, after the properties were determined to have been obtained through illegal means.
The decision was made at a committee meeting in the morning, following more than a year of efforts to examine files and interview people linked to the league, which was designated a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) affiliate in February last year, committee Chairman Lin Feng-jeng (林?正) told a news conference in Taipei.
The assets to be returned include NT$37.5 billion in cash, NT$600 million in shares of state-owned Bank of Taiwan and NT$600 million in real-estate properties, Lin said.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
While a majority of the league’s documents had been destroyed — allegedly by former league chairwoman Cecilia Koo (辜嚴倬雲) and her daughter Koo Huai-ju (辜懷如) to obstruct the committee’s investigation — the committee was able to examine documents stored in various government agencies and on some league employees’ computers, he said.
Most of the league’s assets originated with the former KMT regime’s collection of so-called “armed forces entertainment donations” from 1955 to 1989, which required Taiwanese importers to pay NT$0.5 for each US$1 they exchanged, he added.
“People could hardly refuse to make the ‘donation’ unless they wanted to go out of business. That means that even though it was called a ‘donation,’ it was more like a mandatory tax,” Lin said.
The division of the “donations” was decided by a so-called central coordination team, which was controlled by the KMT and consisted of representatives of the KMT’s then-provincial headquarters, the Taiwan Garrison Command, the Ministry of National Defense, the national exporters and importers association, the league and the Friends Of Armed Forces Association, he said.
Most of the money was given to the armed forces association and the league, which Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) wife, Soong Mayling (宋美齡), founded in 1950 and led for decades, he added.
According to the committee’s previous estimates, the league received NT$24.03 billion — or NT$52.6 billion after factoring in inflation — from the donations.
Despite the committee’s latest order, the league is expected to be able to continue to function, as the committee did not list the NT$240 million deposited in two Taiwanese banks as illegally obtained assets, Lin said.
According to league documents and testimony provided by its accountant, the money was wired from China directly to the US after a women’s organization overseen by Soong related to the 1930s New Life Movement in China was dissolved in 1946, he said.
“The money had been stored in a California branch of the Bank of Canton until it was moved to a New York branch of China CITIC Bank in 2002,” Lin said.
The money was only repatriated to Taiwan in the past few years, Lin added.
As the committee could not determine if the money belonged to the league and was certain it did not come from the armed forces entertainment donations, it did not order the league to return the NT$240 million, he said.
The committee is continuing an investigation into the Friends of Armed Forces Association and would make public its findings when they are complete, he added.
The league yesterday said it would appeal the decision.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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