Thu, Dec 08, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Fugitive former official dies in US

’A CORDIAL MAN’:The controversial figure had been on the run since 2004, when he was convicted of financial crimes involving Taichung-based Kuangsan Enterprise Group

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Former legislative speaker Liu Sung-pan, is pictured on July 11, 2003.

Photo: Yeh Chih-ming, Taipei Times

Former legislative speaker and fugitive from justice Liu Sung-pan (劉松藩), 85, has passed away at an undisclosed location in the US, his family announced yesterday.

Liu’s family is from Greater Taichung’s Dajia (大甲), and was associated with a powerful local faction in Taichung.

First elected to represent then-Taichung County in 1960, Liu served five consecutive terms as a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator until 1999. In the later phase of his political career, Liu was legislative speaker from 1992 to 1999.

After the end of his term as legislative speaker, Liu joined the People First Party (PFP) in 2000 as part of an exodus of disgruntled KMT politicians in support of the new political party led by former governor James Soong (宋楚瑜).

Liu served as campaign director in Soong’s failed presidential bid in 2000, but had remained on the sidelines of the nation’s political scene since then.

The controversial figure had been on the run since 2004, when he was convicted of financial crimes involving Taichung-based Kuangsan Enterprise Group and the group’s president Tseng Cheng-jen (曾正仁).

Liu and Tseng were the two major figures in the scandal, and both fled Taiwan for China, following their convictions on charges of receiving kickbacks, making unauthorized bank loans, the illegal transfer of company assets to private accounts, and other financial irregularities at Kuangsan Enterprise and Taichung Business Bank (台中企銀), of which the two men served consecutive terms as chairmen.

Investigators found that Liu in 1998, while still speaker, applied political pressure to obtain bank loans totaling NT$8.9 billion (US$278.98 million at the current exchange rate) from Taichung Business Bank, where Tseng was then-serving as chairman.

A judicial investigation found that Liu received NT$150 million in kickbacks from Tseng, and there were also other allegations of Liu abusing his political power to obtain illegal bank loans and engaging in other financial irregularities.

The court in 2004 sentenced Liu to a four-year prison term, and also fined him NT$30 million.

However, he fled first to the US, then to China, before returning to the US.

Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who succeeded Liu as KMT legislative speaker, yesterday said that Liu had maintained good links with his associates in Taiwanese politics.

“He presided over the setting up of the cross-party negotiation process. That enabled the legislature to function more effectively, and it also led to an improved relationship between the political parties,” Wang said.

Legislative speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said what he remembered most was that Liu spoke Mandarin with a strong Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) accent when presiding over legislative proceedings.

His accent resulted in some funny moments when he tried to pronounce the names of certain legislators, Su added.

“Liu was a cordial man, and he dealt with most legislators fairly. Although there were unpleasant things which happened to him later in life, I still feel sorry about his passing. If Liu’s family returns his ashes to Taiwan and holds a funeral service, I will certainly attend the event to see an old friend,” Su said.

KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said she that was sad to hear the news of his is passing, adding that “Liu was in his time the most powerful man in the legislature, who could sway political decisions.”

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