The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday confirmed a report in a Singapore newspaper that it was seeking the return of nearly US$30 million intended to establish diplomatic relations with Papua New Guinea and which was allegedly embezzled by two Taiwanese men.
Ministry spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh (葉非比) confirmed a report in yesterday’s Lianhe Zaobao that Singapore’s High Court on Monday granted a MOFA request to freeze the assets of Ching Chi-ju (金紀玖) and Wu Shih-tsai (吳思材), who acted as middlemen in the deal.
Yeh said that the nation sought to open diplomatic ties with Papua New Guinea in 2006. As part of the deal, MOFA would send US$30 million intended as aid for the country to a joint account opened by Ching and Wu at OCBC bank in Singapore.
Ching and Wu were to withdraw the cash only after talks on establishing diplomatic ties with Papua New Guinea had succeeded and had to return the fund to Taipei if the talks failed.
On September 14, 2006, the ministry remitted US$29.8 million into the bank account, with US$200,000 deducted from the sum as spending money for Ching and Wu.
But at the end of 2006, Taipei decided to end the talks, which apparently were going nowhere, and asked Ching and Wu to return the money.
Ching, who holds a US passport, has disappeared while Wu is being held in custody in Taiwan, the report said.