The nation’s judicial agencies came under fresh public scrutiny yesterday, as petrochemical tycoon Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄) reportedly fled overseas while the Supreme Court was processing a petition on his conviction for an insider trading offense.
It is the second time in the past few weeks a major white-collar crime felon eluded the law by fleeing Taiwan following the escape of convicted former prosecutor Ching Tien-po (井天博).
Chen, 73, is the founder of Taipei-based Ho Tung Chemical Corp (和桐化學) and is the honorary chairman of local manufacturing business association the Chinese National Federation of Industries. Chen is also a former chairman of the Petrochemical Industry Association of Taiwan.
He was found guilty of fraud, insider trading and manipulating the shares of the Tainan-based optoelectronic company HannsTouch Solution Inc (和鑫光電) and was sentenced to 30 months in prison by the Taiwan High Court, along with a fine of NT$2 million (US$60,596) in July.
Another business fraud case involving Chen, in which he allegedly joined Taiwan Youni Corp (台灣優力公司) to defraud eight Taiwanese banks through NT$1.8 billion in non-performing loans, is still being investigated. Chen had been awaiting the outcome of the trial, where prosecutors are seeking a sentence of at least seven years in prison for breaching the Banking Act (銀行法).
It was reported this week that Chen had fled across the Taiwan Strait on a fishing boat sometime in October, first heading to Kinmen Island, then taking another boat to a coastal city in China’s Fujian Province.
Chen filed a petition in August against the High Court’s guilty verdict, pleading to serve his sentence in a Hsinchu-area prison, where Chen had registered his new residence, instead of a Taipei-area prison.
After the High Court rejected his petition, Chen appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled to reject his petition on Dec. 1.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office issued a statement yesterday saying that they did not receive the Supreme Court’s rejection decision and therefore they did not take Chen into custody to start serving his prison term.
The statement said that the court did not notify prosecutors regarding the new situation of Chen’s case and therefore no officers were assigned to monitor his movements or take him into custody.
Media reports said that Chen’s flight was aimed at evading ruling on the NT$1.8 billion bank defraud case, where he was tipped off on a likely guilty verdict, which would carry a minimum seven-year prison term, and made plans to flee to China where he has several petrochemical business ventures.
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