Premier Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday said he would respect the decision of an Executive Yuan task force should it decide to hold former government officials responsible in the wake of Mega International Commercial Bank’s (兆豐銀行) New York branch being fined over breaches of US money-laundering regulations.
“Whether a decision will be made [to subject former ministers of finance or former Financial Supervisory Committee (FSC) chairs to disciplinary action] depends on where the task force’s investigation leads,” Lin said.
The premier said he would not step in until the task force has finished its investigation.
The task force, headed by Vice Premier Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀), was formed last month to coordinate the investigation, as the public would not be satisfied with it being led by the Ministry of Finance or the FSC, which might be involved in the case, Lin said.
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) last month fined the branch US$180 million for failure to report suspicious transactions and comply with US rules.
The task force on Monday night revealed a numerical mistake in a bank report to the DFS, which said that a transaction between the New York branch and the bank’s Panama City branch in 2014 to be US$4.491 billion when it should have been US$491 million.
The mistake was due to a typographical error, the task force said.
The mistake meant the total of transactions between the bank’s branches in New York, Panama City and Panama’s Colon Free Zone in 2013 and 2014 was reported as US$11.5 billion when it should have been US$7.5 billion, it said, adding that some transactions between the three branches are considered suspicious by the DFS.
The FSC ordered the bank to dismiss six executives last week, including former chairman Mckinney Tsai (蔡友才) and general manager Wu Han-ching (吳漢卿).
The task force said it would also hold former Mega Bank executives Shiu Kuang-si (徐光曦), Wei Mei-yu (魏美玉) and Chen Sung-hsing (陳松興) accountable for failure to report the DFS inspections and the suspicious transactions to financial authorities in Taiwan.
The task force also plans to hold former heads of the ministry and the FSC liable over allegations they failed to properly oversee the state-run bank, although it did not specify any names, while reports said that former minister of finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和), former FSC chairman William Tseng (曾銘宗) and former chairwoman Jennifer Wang (王儷玲) might be held accountable.
New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said a typographical error was an unimaginable blunder in the banking sector.
“Did Mega Bank not realize this error as early as February or March when the [DFS] inspection report came out and when it responded [to the report]?” Huang asked. “I can not believe the [typo] claim just because Mega Bank says so.”
“I do not believe the claim at all. It must be an attempt to cover up another mistake,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chang Hung-lu (張宏陸) said.
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