Bank manager admits to stealing over NT$56m

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jan 03, 2001 - Page 3

An assistant manager of the state-owned Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫) was indicted yesterday for allegedly stealing NT$53 million and US$109,000 (NT$3.6 million) in cash from the bank.

The accused assistant manager, Chang Tein-chu (張天助), confessed to the crime and said he stole the money because he had financial problems due to heavy losses in his stock market investments, Taichung District Prosecutors' Office said.

Chang was in charge of treasury and cashier operations in one of Taiwan Cooperative Bank's branches in Taichung. The indictment requests a relatively lenient 12-year sentence for Chang because he had cooperated during the investigation and demonstrated an intention to return all the stolen money. The offence with which Chang has been charged -- stealing public property in his capacity as a public servant -- is punishable by a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of life under the Statute for the Punishment of Corruption.

Chang is alleged to have stolen from the bank twice, taking some NT$6 million on the first occasion, and NT$47 million and US$109,000, on the second, the indictment says.

Chang had invested in the stock market using margin trading, whereby an investor purchases shares with loans secured on existing shares. Because of the continuous fall in stock prices late last year, he suffered great financial losses and failed to meet his loan repayment schedule, prosecutors said.

Chang first embezzled the NT$6 million, hoping that he might be able to give the money back once he was back in profit.

As a year-end check at the bank drew near, however, Chang worried that his offence could be exposed, and went further, carrying out the second theft and fleeing, according to the prosecution.

This second offence, on Dec. 5, in which Chang opened the bank's vaults and took away cartons and bags of cash was recorded by a hidden camera. He then went missing. Police arrested him 10 days later in Taichung. To their surprise, Chang had dumped the haul from his second offence in mountains in Miaoli County, without having spent any of it. The police retrieved the cash intact on the basis of information given in Chang's confession.

Chang told the police that he had been very nervous while on the run and didn't know what to do with the huge amount of money. He spent around NT$300,000 of the first NT$6 million stolen during his time on the run, prosecutors said.