Thu, Mar 24, 2016 - Page 3 News List

KMT denies touting assets to US tycoon

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday downplayed a local media report alleging that a KMT heavyweight was seeking to sell off party properties and the state-owned Grand Hotel to a US casino tycoon.

“The Grand Hotel belongs to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The party has no association with the hotel — let alone trying to sell it,” KMT Culture and Communications Committee deputy director-general Lee Ming-hsien (李明賢) said yesterday.

The content of the report is clearly unsubstantiated, Lee said, without elaborating.

Lee was responding to a report published yesterday in the latest issue of Chinese-language Next Magazine, which said that a high-ranking KMT official approached a Las Vegas casino magnate visiting Taiwan, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Taipei on Mar. 9, to sound him out about purchasing three KMT properties and the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel is affiliated with the “Taiwan Dunmu Association,” a private organization established in 1961 by KMT heavyweights that is overseen by the transport ministry.

Grand Hotel chairman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) is a former director-general of the KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee.

The three properties allegedly include the KMT’s 500 ping (1,652.9 m2) plot of land used for the C1 building in the Taipei Twin Towers project, the New CB Party KTV building in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area, and the first to third floors of a building on Taipei’s Changchun Road.

These properties were put up for auction by the KMT earlier this year, with a combined floor price of NT$8.4 billion (US$257.47 million), the magazine said.

“Because the US tycoon still harbors hopes that the Taiwanese government plans to legalize casino gambling, the main purpose of his trip to Taiwan this time was to acquire hotels,” the report said, citing an anonymous whistle-blower.

As the magnate was worried that he might be receiving problematic KMT assets, he consulted a Taiwanese acquaintance, who talked him out of the deal.

“The new Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government is set to be sworn in in two months. Given growing calls for the recovery of the KMT’s ill-gotten assets, what the party is trying to sell now is most likely its controversial properties,” the magazine quoted the Taiwanese man as saying to the US tycoon.

The magazine said the KMT heavyweight has close ties with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and once served as a county commissioner in northern Taiwan, while the US magnate owns a listed company that is worth US$12 billion.

When reached for comment, DPP Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) said it is apparent that the KMT is seeking to sell off prime properties before the DPP administration takes office.

“That is why we should expedite the passage of both the draft bill governing party assets and the transitional justice promotion act, which calls for the freezing of any party properties deemed ill-gotten before subjecting them for further evaluation,” Tsai said.

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