Mon, Mar 15, 2004 - Page 2 News List

A journey from riches to ragged scandal

DONATIONS Huang Tsung-hung, 48-year-old former chairman of the Taiwan Pineapple Group, took his company to great heights. And then came the decline

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Pineapple czar Huang Tsung-hung speaks at a press conference on Thursday.

PHOTO: SUNG CHIH-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Former Taiwan Pineapple Group (台鳳) chairman Huang Tsung-hung (黃宗宏) has been at the center of public discussion again since March 8, when he wrote a letter to the media and claimed that he had donated lots of money to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

The 48-year-old businessman has been keeping a low profile for the past two years, struggling with serious monetary problems and the lawsuit surrounding the Chung Shing Bank loan scandal.

On Jan. 20 the Taipei District Court sentenced Huang to nine years in prison and a fine of NT$300 million on a breach of trust conviction related to the Chung Shing Bank scandal. The bank's former president Wang Yu-yun (王玉雲) was sentenced to seven years and four months in jail on the same charge. Former general manager Wang Shuen-ren (王宣仁) was sentenced to seven years; the former manager of the bank's Tienmu branch Wu Bi-yun (吳碧雲) to four years and six months, former Luchou branch manager Lee Tung-hsing (李東興) to three years and six months and former financial manager Chen Ming-yi (陳明義) to four years and six months. They are currently appealing the verdict.

The scandal surfaced in late April 2000 after an investigation into allegations that the bank had extended credit to the Taiwan Pineapple Group, much of it without collateral. It was also discovered that nearly NT$120 million out of the loans to Huang's company had been transferred to the accounts of another company owned by Wang Yu-yun, who is also considered to be a political heavyweight in southern Taiwan.

On March 11, Huang said at a press conference that KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) owed him NT$10.91 million. He also accused KMT politicians of denying their relations with him, despite having accepted considerable political donations from him over the past decade.

According to Huang, the NT$10.91 million was for the taxes on a purchase of two pieces of land in Taichung County. Lien bought the land, approximately 700 ping in total, on Jan. 20, 1998.

Lien asked then-legislator Wu Tse-yuan (伍澤元) to help with the payment, according to Huang.

He said that Lien promised he would pay him back, but this never happened.

"He is so broke today because he is a man who keeps his promises to friends," said Richard Chang, who identified himself as a close friend of Huang's but would not give his Chinese name.

Chang organized Thursday's press conference on behalf of Huang.

According to him, Huang currently has debts of approximately NT$2 billion.

Chang said Huang incurred these debts because he spent all his money to try to maintain the Taiwan Pineapple Group's stock price when it started to decline in 1998.

"He did not run away because of the debts. On the contrary, he is trying very hard to pay off the debts," Chang said.

Huang has spent his entire professional career at the Taiwan Pineapple Group, which was purchased by his father, Huang Cheng-chin (黃成金), in 1955.

The Taiwan Pineapple Group is best known for its canned food, and was one of Taiwan's top-10 companies in 1961.

Huang Tsung-hung graduated with a business degree from Japan's famous Waseda University in 1984. In the same year, at the age of 27, he became the group's general manager.

Since joining the company, Huang Tsung-hung strived to expand its business from canned foods to a variety of different fields, including hotels, construction, land development, international trading, the arts, education, banking and even car dealerships. The company's stock prices kept rising along with its expanding field of business.

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