Wed, Mar 26, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Founder of Cosmos Bank questioned in embezzlement case

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei prosecutors last night released Cosmos Bank founder and former chairman Hsu Sheng-fa (許勝發), his son, former vice chairman Hsu Sen-rong (許顯榮), and daughter, Hsu Juan-juan (許娟娟), on bail after questioning them over their alleged involvement in an embezzlement case.

Taipei District Prosecutors' Office spokesman Lin Jinn-tsun (林錦村) said five individuals were summoned yesterday: Hsu Sheng-fa, Hsu Sen-rong, Hsu Juan-juan, Cosmos Bank official Shen Ming-ching (沈明津) and former inspector of Cosmos Bank Charles Chen (陳致遠).

The five were questioned by agents from the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau in the morning at one of the bureau's offices, and in the afternoon they were moved to the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office for further interviews by prosecutors.

Hsu Sheng-fa currently is the chairman of Auto 21. Prosecutors believe that between 2001 and 2006, the Hsus used more than 10 Auto 21 subsidiaries to apply for loans from the bank, and that under their direction the bank illegally granted the loans, believed to be valued at about NT$800 million (US$24.7 million).

Between 2004 and 2005, the pair allegedly used several plots of land as collateral for loans of more than NT$1.8 billion from the bank, which granted the loans despite the fact that the real value of the land was much lower than indicated, prosecutors said.

In addition, in 2004 the Hsus allegedly sold NT$15 billion in non-performing loans to Asset Management Company, a subsidiary of Auto 21, for NT$1 billion -- far less than the market price, prosecutors said, adding that the company had only paid the bank NT$30 million.

Hsu Sheng-fa was released on NT$35 million bail and Hsu Sen-rong on NT$20 million bail, while Hsu Juan-juan was released on NT$15 million bail.

Chen, who was investigated as a witness, was released without bail after questioning.

Additional reporting by CNA

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