Sat, Aug 26, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Assets committee investigates court case

SETTING PRECEDENT:Treatment of the case, in which the KMT allegedly sold land at less than market value, could provide pointers to how it will deal with claims rejected in court

By Tseng Wei-chen  /  Staff reporter

Yuanlih Construction Enterprise Group (元利建設) is suspected of having illegally profited from its 2005 purchase of land in Taipei’s Muzha District (木柵) from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Executive Yuan’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee said yesterday as it continues its investigation into the KMT’s original acquisition of the land.

Yeh Sung-jen (葉頌仁), whose father owned four plots of land on which the KMT built its Institute on Policy Research and Development, appealed to the committee for a ruling after he failed to convince a court that KMT authorities forced his father to sell the land in 1962.

The case is viewed as an important indicator of how the committee will handle illicit asset cases that have been rejected in court.

A committee report yesterday found that the KMT’s 2005 sale of the institute’s compound to Yuanlih for NT$4.25 billion (US$140 million) represented a loss of more than NT2 billion below its market value.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for next Wednesday.

According to the committee’s report, when the KMT in May 2005 put the Zhongxing Shanzhuang (中興山莊) plot up for sale, an appraisal report by China Credit Information Service (CCIS, 中華徵信所) valued the land at NT$5.87 billion.

While the KMT originally demanded more than the appraisal value, it gradually dropped its price after only attracting bids from Yuanlih, the report said, adding that former KMT administration and management committee director Chang Che-chen (張哲琛) in August 2005 advised then-Taipei mayor and KMT chairman-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to drop the price to NT$4.25 billion because of the low offers.

Ma signed off on the decision the next day and the KMT sold most of the property to the firm the same month, with a portion donated to the Taipei City Government for the relocation of an elementary school, the assets committee said.

The committee cited an earlier Special Investigation Division report quoting Yuanlih executive Lin Ming-hsiung (林敏雄) as saying that there was a substantial difference between the NT$300,000 per ping (3.3m2) bidding price for the land and its market value, stating that the firm had bid NT$400,000 per ping for neighboring Bank of Taiwan land.

The difference with the NT$400,000 market price was huge, the committee said, estimating that the firm acquired the land for NT$2.4 billion less than its market value.

In response, Yuanlih vice president Wu Li-ching (吳麗謹) yesterday said that the firm acquired the property for NT$460,000 per ping and that no final determination should be made before committee hearings concluded.

She said her firm had cooperated in the committee’s investigation by preparing relevant documents and that it plans to testify before the committee next week.

Additional reporting by Hsu Yi-ping and Abraham Gerber

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