Thu, Jan 25, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Pan-green lawmaker admits to heavy debts

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Tsao-min (鄭朝明), whose name appeared on the list of account holders who hold heavy debts with one of the struggling banks under government control, admitted yesterday he owed a lot of money.

Cheng, however, said it was not his intention to default on his loan, which totals NT$40 million (US$1.21million), with the Taitung Business Bank (台東企銀).

"I am also a victim. I helped one of my friends by lending him NT$140 million [US$4.2 million] and then he left Taiwan without informing me," Cheng said.

The names of account holders in default -- including companies and individuals with The Chinese Bank (中華商銀), the Enterprise Bank of Hualien (花蓮企銀) and the Taitung Business Bank were made available on the Central Deposit Insurance Co's (CDIC, 中央存款保險公司) Web site on Tuesday night.

House mortgaged

Cheng said his house and land were mortgaged to the bank in 1995 for NT$140 million, and he had been trying to repay the loan ever since.

"The house and land were auctioned off by the bank to pay off the mortgage, and the bank has been deducting one-third of my monthly salary to refund the rest of it," Cheng said.

While it was widely expected that there would be several lawmakers on the list of bad-debtors, it turned out that Cheng was the only one.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said it might be because some of the defaulted accounts were actually dummy accounts owned by lawmakers.

"The disclosure of the names of account holders in heavy debt is good, but it is not enough. It's just like catching thieves. You can't just publicize their names, it is more important to catch them," Lai said.

Meanwhile, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday denied that the government was trying to shift the focus away from the "state affairs fund" case by having the CDIC disclose the names of bad debtors on Tuesday evening.

Expected

Revealing the identity of bad debtors was in line with the public's expectations and the government was just following the law, Ker said, citing Article 11 of the Resolution Trust Committee Fund Regulatory Provisions (金融重建基金設置及管理條例).

According to Article 11 of the provisions, the government is allowed to disclose the names of bad debtors, DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said, adding that the provisions did not prevent the government from disclosing the identity of bad debtors' warrantors.

Gao urged the Financial Supervisory Committee to make public the identities of the warrantors because many of the bad debtors might have "borrowed" names from their warrantors in order to gain bank loans.

"Publicizing the names of the warrantors will mean the real bad debtors have nowhere to hide," he said.

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