Fri, Nov 24, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma profited from asset sales, DPP says

SMOKING GUN?Although they provided no concrete evidence, DPP legislators insisted that the KMT chairman had personally profited from the sale of party assets

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Party Legislator (DPP) Huang Chao-hui, left, holds up a document at a press conference where he and fellow DPP legislators Kao Jyh-peng, right, and Chuang Suo-hang, not pictured, claimed that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou had benefited from the sale of party assets.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), already under investigation in connection with maladministration of his special allowance fund, was yesterday accused of profiting from the sale of his party's assets.

Ma, who doubles as the chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), was accused by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators of maneuvering to ensure that he personally benefited from the sale of his party's assets.

"As Taipei mayor, Ma embezzled his special allowance fund and as KMT chairman Ma's scam was selling the party's stolen assets," DPP Legislator Huang Chao-hui (黃昭輝) said.

Huang and two of his colleagues told a press conference that the KMT had written special clauses into the contracts of sale when selling its assets.

"Deals outlined in the KMT's internal documents guarantee that the party receives a share of the profits when the buyer disposes of assets bought from the party," Huang said.

For example, in the case of the sale of three media assets to a subsidiary of the China Times Group last December, the post-sale kickback was as much as NT$11.21 billion (US$341.35 million), DPP Legislator Kao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said.

The media assets Kao referred to are the China Television Co (CTV), the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC) and the Central Motion Picture Corp.

Through Hua Hsia Investment Holding Co, the KMT previously owned controlling stakes in all three companies.

"According to data from the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corporation, the net asset value of the three was NT$15.21 billion, but they were sold for only NT$4 billion. The transaction price was listed in the party's official report [released on Aug. 23]," Kao said.

"Why were they sold at such a discount -- about NT$11.21 billion? Simply put, the generous bargain was part of a deal through which Ma received kickbacks," he added.

DPP Legislator Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) said such deals were standard practice when the KMT sold off assets.

"Certain KMT members who were unhappy with the irregularities gave us copies of the party's internal documents because they want Ma to explain why he sold the assets at such a low price," Chuang said.

Huang said that the DPP had a copy of the contract of sale signed by Ma. However, this was not made available to reporters.

The DPP lawmakers said they would hold a series of press conferences on the issue, hoping to prove that Ma had played a major role in the KMT's "illegal" transactions.

KMT Administration and Management Committee Director-General Chang Che-shen (張哲琛) denied the accusations.

Chang said the DPP legislators "intentionally ignored" the debts the KMT's assets had accrued when they they were sold. According to Chang, Hua Hsia -- which manages certain KMT assets -- had debts of NT$5.3 billion and the three media outlets carried debts of NT$5.9 billion when they were sold. Given this, NT$4 billion was a reasonable price, he said.

"The DPP is clearly trying to confuse the public with the numbers they provided," Chang said yesterday while addressing reporters at KMT headquarters.

Chang further denied making under-the-table deals with buyers, saying that certain transactions took a longer amount of time because the seller and the buyer disagreed on the value of the properties. As a result, it was agreed to wait for the properties to be valued by the government before concluding the deals.

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