FSC chief resigns, Cabinet approves

SHORT STAY: Shih Jun-ji, the chairman of the nation's financial watchdog, decided to take the blame for the Rebar scandal after just six months in his new position


Sat, Jan 13, 2007 - Page 1

The Cabinet last night approved the resignation of Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) Chairman Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) in the wake of a run on The Chinese Bank (中華銀行), a subsidiary of the Rebar Asia Pacific Group (力霸亞太企業集團), which started last Friday after news broke that two other subsidiaries of the group had filed for bankruptcy protection a day earlier.

More than 40 Rebar Group executives have been questioned by prosecutors in the wake of the scandal, and two members of group founder Wang You-theng's (王又曾) family have been detained. Wang fled to China late last month.

At a press conference last night, Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Shih had tendered his resignation yesterday afternoon to shoulder responsibility for the scandal.

Tsai said that Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) had reluctantly approved his resignation.

As to who would take up the vacancy left by Shih's departure, Tsai said Su would discuss the issue with the president, who is scheduled to return to Taipei this morning following his five-day trip to Nicaragua, where he attended the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Wednesday.

"I resigned in order to take responsibility for the recent social disturbance caused by the overnight outbreak of long-standing malpractice in the financial sector," Shih said in a text message last night.

Before any official handover, he would continue to restore financial order and further investigate allegations of embezzlement at the Rebar Group with all his effort, he said.

The commission's vice chairwoman, Susan Chang (張秀蓮), said she was surprised by Shih's resignation.

"He did not let us know beforehand. I was so surprised when I saw the news broadcast," Chang said.

Chang will now serve as acting chairwoman while Gary Tseng (曾國烈), head of the commission's banking bureau, will be demoted to counsellor.

In related news, Democratic Progressive Party legislators were yesterday reportedly divided on whether Su should step down to shoulder the blame for the scandal.

A story in the Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday said that rumors were circulating in pan-green circles that the president was considering sacking the premier upon his return from Nicaragua.

When asked for comment about the reports, deputy Cabinet spokesman William Yih (易榮宗) yesterday said that "finding the problems and fixing them will be our priority at this moment."

"The focus should not be shifted on to the issue of whether the premier should step down," he added.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

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