Thu, Aug 14, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Ministries reproved for failure to fight financial crimes

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Control Yuan members yesterday proposed censuring the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for their failure to successfully curb financial crime in the past decade.

"Official censure was proposed because we perceived that the two ministries should be responsible for failing to prevent the occurrence of serious financial crimes," the control Yuan report stated.

Also the ministries were incapable of redressing the crimes and their effects through legal and administrative action, a the report said.

The investigation, initiated by four Control Yuan members -- Huang Huang-hsiung (黃煌雄), Huang Chin-jenn (黃勤鎮), Huang Wu-tzu (黃武次) and Chang Teh-ming (張德銘), concluded that the omissions and inadequacies of the two ministries had seriously weakened Taiwan's financial environment by allowing an escalation of the bad-debt problem, the misuse of bankruptcy proceedings and wide-scale embezzlement.

The MOF was particularly culpable since some of the irregularities cited in the report happened more than a decade ago yet few, if any, measures had been implemented to stop them recurring, the report said.

The ministry deserved censure for its silence and for what appeared to be conniving to minimize the attention paid to financial crimes afterwards.

The MOF should have at least carried out regular checks on financial institutions and spotted the deteriorating condition of banks and credit co-ops sooner, the report said.

The ministry needs to improve its handling of seriously indebted financial institutions. The practice of merely sending banks with high non-performing loan (NPL) ratios written reminders that they should find ways to lower their ratios was simply inadequate, the report said.

Tougher methods of spotting problems and solving them were needed.

The MOF was also faulted by the Control Yuan members for failing to set up an information database on previous financial crimes which, they said, would help the government to spot weaknesses in the financial supervisory system that were open to criminal exploitation.

The Control Yuan members also urged financial authorities to devise and enforce better and clearer rules of corporate governance and transparency.

"The lack of a mechanism to monitor companies' internal management through required information transparency has impaired the government's ability to nose out falsified accounts and other forms of fraud," the panel said.

The Ministry of Justice was also reproved because of its tardiness in prosecuting and adjudicating financial crimes.

"The Control Yuan investigation found that the judicial authorities failed to finalize nearly one-fifth of the 101 financial criminal cases within the laid-down three-month deadline. The ratio was extreme and the ministry therefore needs to be disciplined for overlooking the problem," the report said.

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