Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Seize Mirage kickbacks: legislator

By Yang Chun-hui and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter is pictured over Kaohsiung on Monday.

Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiang Yung-chang (江永昌) on Wednesday urged prosecutors to exercise their newly acquired powers and seize the money if it was found to have been laundered during the procurement of Dassault Mirage 2000 aircraft between 1992 and 1997.

Chiang made the remarks on Facebook in response to news that the Ministry of National Defense is suing France over kickbacks French officials received for selling Mirage 2000 jets to Taiwan.

The Taipei District Court on July 27 ordered the confiscation of US$900 million that was found to have been laundered during the procurement of Lafayette-class frigates, in accordance with last year’s amendments to the Criminal Code, Chiang said.

That the frigates had cost the nation NT$78 billion (U$2.57 billion at current exchange rates) — less than half of the fighters’ cost of NT$160 billion — suggest that an “astronomical sum” of kickbacks might have been involved, he said.

Chiang said recent amendments to the Money Laundering Control Act (洗錢防制法), which he had proposed, include mechanisms that allows the broadening of government authority in seizing illegal proceeds.

The Legislative Yuan on Dec. 9 last year approved the amendments and they were promulgated on June 28, he said.

The amended act provides prosecutors with “a weapon for broadening the scope of asset seizures,” which should be utilized, Chiang said.

Under the act, the scope of asset seizures includes all financial assets that are proven to have been obtained via organized or habitual money laundering, even when they lay outside of the specific case under investigation, Chiang said.

“The act is applicable and appropriate for the investigation of kickbacks involved in the Mirage 2000 jets case. Kickbacks that are revealed by investigations as illicit gains should be confiscated to deter official corruption and malfeasance, restore the principles of justice and public confidence in defense procurements,” he said.

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