Sat, Jul 04, 2009 - Page 4 News List

DPP's Wu and Hong indicted over land deal

STAFF WRITER

The Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday indicted former Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar) chairman Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) on a charge of breach of trust, saying that Wu abused his power to sell Taisugar land cheaply to Chunlung Co after being lobbied by Hong.

Pan Chung-hao (潘忠豪) of Chunlung, a long-time supporter of Hong, rented land from Taisugar in Taichung and Changhua counties and in Taichung City. The indictment said Chunlung expressed its wish to buy the land in 2003 and Hong lobbied Wu to approve the sale.

Taisugar staff said the deal violated regulations, but Wu was said to have overruled objections and told staff to approve the sale.

Following Wu’s instructions, Taisugar estimated the land’s market value was around NT$780 million (US$23.7 million), but because that was lower than the Assessed Present Value, it was suggested that the sales price should be set at NT$870 million. The land evaluation group at Taisugar’s Yuemei plant later suggested a value of around NT$600 million, the indictment said.

Wu requested that the case not be reviewed by the company’s land resource and utilization committee as was normal practice, but submitted it directly to the board, the indictment said, adding that Wu, using expected annual losses of NT$700 million to NT$800 million as an excuse, said it was necessary to complete the sale before the end of the year and set the price at NT$623.87 million.

The company bought the land for NT$626.88 million. When land increment tax was deducted, Taisugar earned NT$460 million on the deal, said the indictment.

The indictment said that although Wu and Hong have both contributed to Taiwan’s democracy, they did not follow the law and caused Taisugar to incur losses. Prosecutors suggested the court should issue them with heavy sentences.

Wu, who currently serves as DPP secretary-general, said yesterday through a spokesperson that he has no monetary relationship with Chunlung.

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