Fri, Mar 08, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Company official cleared of breach of trust charges

INNOCENT Charged with impropriety in relation to a NT$96 million contract, Regis Chen's lawyer said that the case was an attempt to scuttle a political appointment

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei District Court yesterday found Regis Chen (陳朝威), the former head of BES Engineering Corp, not guilty of charges of breach of trust.

Chen, who now serves as the chairman of Chinese Petroleum Corp, had been accused by his successor -- Shen Ching-ching (沈慶京), chairman of Core Pacific Group -- of impropriety.

The allegations centered around a NT$96 million contract BES signed with Lay-li Construction Co in Taichung while Chen served as president.

BES paid NT$96 million to Lay-li, which was to be paid back after Lay-li collected the money from its client. But the customer has yet to pay Lay-li, so it doesn't have the funds to pay BES.

Chen left his post as the president of BES in 1997. On July 13, Shen filed suit against his predecessor, accusing Chen of breach of trust in the deal.

In yesterday's trial, Taipei District Court Judge Wang Han-ching (汪漢卿) found that Chen wasn't responsible for the deal between BES and Lay-li.

The contract was drawn up and signed by lower-level officials at BES and Lay-li, the court found.

In addition, Shen charged that Chen should have consulted the board of BES before the company entered into the NT$96 million deal with Lay-li.

But the court found yesterday that the company's charter -- which outlines responsibilities for board members and management -- didn't require Chen to seek board approval.

Also, the court said there was no evidence that Chen ordered the contract to be approved.

Chen and Shen were absent at yesterday's trial.

Shen is eligible to appeal to the Taiwan High Court but his lawyer, Liu Yang-ming (劉陽明), did not say whether an appeal would be filed.

Timothy Wan (宛浩森), Chen's lawyer, speculated yesterday that the suit was politically motivated. Wan said Shen may have filed the suit to block Chen's political ambitions.

"I think he was just trying to stop Chen from being nominated as the minister of economic affairs," Wan said. "I'm not kidding, because this is what Shen said during another hearing on Jan. 15."

Shen didn't respond to the accusation.

Wan said Chen was an honest person who wouldn't break the law. "I believe Shen filed the suit for some kind of political purpose," Chen's lawyer said.

Wan works as general counsel for Chinese Petroleum Corp. It wasn't clear why Chinese Petroleum -- a state-run company that isn't connected to the case -- was paying for Chen's legal defense.

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