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Wed, Aug 08, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Benny Hu rejects claim he misappropriated bank funds

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office questioned Benny Hu (胡定吾), former president of the China Development Industrial Bank (中華開發工業銀行, CDIB), yesterday morning in connection with the alleged misappropriation of bank funds.

Hu, who is now president of the Taiwan Asset Management Co (台灣金聯資產管理公司), told reporters that the case the prosecutors are looking into was about a donation rather misappropriation.

"It's not proper to specify the destination of the donation here," Hu said in the hall outside the prosecutors' office when pressed by reporters after being questioned by prosecutors.

"Anyway, it has nothing to do with the election [for the bank's board of directors that was held in June]," he said.

However, prosecutors confirmed media reports that they summoned Hu for questioning because of a tip concerning the alleged misappropriation of funds.

The tip alleged Hu misappropriated hundreds of thousands of New Taiwan dollars in bank funds in 1999 when he treated relatives and friends to a luxury banquet at a five-star hotel because the banquet was not related to bank business.

The prosecutors said Hu and a bank staffer could be liable to a charge of breach of trust because the alleged offense could have harmed the interests of the bank and its shareholders. The officiating prosecutor said that the case was "small and simple," but declined to go into further details.

Hu said he had done nothing illegal.

"I don't know where the misappropriation allegation has come from," Hu said, "[the prosecutors] were just trying to find out whether I was entitled to approve a donation by the bank and what my reason was for the approval."

He stressed that the approval of the donation was made in accordance with the bank's regulations. "The case is simple, and I've told the truth to the prosecutors," he said.

Hu was questioned earlier this year by the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau over the same allegations.

Hu became the president of the CDIB in 1993 under the chairmanship of Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英).

Before the election for the bank's board of directors in June, there was widespread speculation in the media of a struggle between Liu and Hu for the chairmanship.

Eventually Liu was reelected and Hu was replaced.

The bank's official Web site has denied reports of a power struggle.

The prosecutor's office declined to comment whether the tip against Hu had anything to do with the alleged power struggle within the bank.

Hu faced another challenge yesterday.

As he was trying to make his way through a crowd of reporters to the prosecutors' office, his face was scraped by a placard held by Ko Szu-hai (柯賜海), who holds daily protests at the district court in a bid to draw media attention to his complaints about government injustice.

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