The US Department of Justice on Thursday announced that it is returning about US$1.5 million to the Taiwanese government following the sale of two properties that were allegedly bought with bribe money.
Prosecutors alleged that Yuanta Securities Co in 2004 paid a bribe of US$6 million to the family of then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to ensure that the government would not oppose a business merger.
Prosecutors said the money was placed in fruit boxes and was delivered to the residence of Chen and his wife.
They said the money was transferred through banks in Hong Kong, Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands before about US$2.1 million was used to buy a condominium in Manhattan and a property in Virginia.
In 2009, Chen and his wife were found guilty of bribery, money laundering and corruption, and were sentenced to prison. Chen has since been released on medical parole due to poor health. His wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), who has been paralyzed from the waist down since she was run over by a truck in 1985, was placed under house arrest after Taichung Prison declined to admit her for medical reasons.
US officials seized the properties in 2012 and eventually sold them for about US$1.5 million.
“We are happy to return these funds to their rightful owners,” Homeland Security Investigations Associate Director Peter Edge said.
Prosecutors said that the Manhattan condominium and the Virginia property were targeted under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
A lawyer representing Chen in 2012 said that the US government had “grossly mischaracterized” the case and that the properties had been forfeited without admitting any liability.
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