Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Prosecutors probe suspicious sale of THSRC’s shares

By Rich Chang  /  Staff Reporter

Taipei prosecutors yesterday questioned former officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and Ministry of Finance, as well as several bank officials, to determine whether there were any irregularities in the bank’s purchase of special shares in Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) in 2002 and 2005.

Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Wang Wen-te (王文德) said former MOTC Bureau of High Speed Rail director Ho Nuan-hsuan (何煖軒), as well as former Bank of Taiwan presidents Chen Mu-tsai (陳木在) and Lee Sheng-yann (李勝彥), were questioned as witnesses.

Wang said that Gary Tseng (曾國烈), former director-general of the Ministry of Finance’s Bureau of Monetary Affairs, and Chang Ming-daw (張明道), a deputy -director-general of the bureau, were also summoned for questioning as witnesses, but failed to show up. Former subordinates were questioned instead, Wang said.

The Ministry of Finance in 2002 amended financial regulations giving the nation’s eight banks the legal means to buy THSRC special shares in 2002 and 2005. The purchases were meant to prop up the financially troubled THSRC.

Wang said prosecutors were trying to determine whether the amendment and the share purchases were legal, adding that they may have involved breach of trust.

Prosecutors and investigators in September last year raided the MOTC and THSRC to retrieve documents as part of a probe into whether THSRC had engaged in illegal deals.

Former THSRC chairwoman Nita Ing (殷琪) has previously been questioned by prosecutors over the matter.

Prosecutors said they also suspected that some individuals may have illegally profited from the rising price of property near stations along the high-speed railway line.

The government owns almost 40 percent of the company’s shares.

Construction of the high-speed rail system cost more than NT$400 billion (US$13.3 billion), of which more than NT$300 billion came in the form of syndicated loans.

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