Sat, Jul 02, 2016 - Page 4 News List

SID applies to seize arms dealer’s family’s accounts

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office yesterday said it would apply to Swiss authorities to seize US$969.75 million deposited in various Swiss banks belonging to relatives of arms dealer Andrew Wang (汪傳浦).

The SID’s plan is the latest development in a military corruption scandal involving the procurement of six Lafayette-class frigates and Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jets from France in the 1990s.

Judicial officials yesterday began taking action in several major cases, as an amendment to the Criminal Code on the seizure of illicit gains went into effect yesterday after its passage by the legislature in December last year.

SID spokesman Kuo Wen-tung (郭文東) said the agency had applied to the Taipei District Court to seize illicit gains in Swiss bank accounts belonging to Wang and his family, which have been frozen over the past 15 years by Swiss authorities pending the outcome of judicial proceedings related to the weapons procurement scandal.

Kuo said the agency would work through an official mechanism for mutual assistance in criminal matters between Taiwan and Switzerland, which allows frozen assets in Switzerland to be released to foreign authorities if the assets are found to be of criminal origin.

Wang fled Taiwan in 1993 after the death of navy captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓), a key figure in the Lafayette frigate affair who was widely believed to have been murdered because he intended to reveal kickbacks from French companies to Wang and government officials.

Prior to the amendment taking effect, Taiwanese courts were unable to confiscate allegedly illegal profits without a criminal conviction and sentencing. As Wang had fled abroad, Taiwan could not seize funds in Swiss accounts that are connected to him.

Wang reportedly died in February last year in the UK at the age of 86. However, the Taiwanese government has not issued an official confirmation of his death, with some political pundits and experts investigating the Lafayette scandal speculating that Wang might have faked his death.

In a separate initiative, intellectual property officials of the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office have petitioned to confiscate NT$82 million (US$2.55 million) in illegal profits from Wei Chuan Foods Corp as part of ongoing judicial proceedings stemming from an adulterated cooking oil scandal in 2014, which sparked public outrage and food safety concerns.

Prosecutors filed the petition with the Intellectual Property Court, which is handling litigation against Wei Chuan executives — including former Ting Hsin International Group executive Wei Ying-chun (魏應充), who was the company’s chairman in 2014 — on charges of fraud and in terms of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).

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