Thu, Feb 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Evidence implicates ex-judge

CRIMINAL MASTERMIND?A commentator said information from the CIA was leaked to Chiang Kuo-hua, who destroyed some evidence and protected his assets

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Investigators yesterday said they have evidence that former judge Chiang Kuo-hua (江國華) and his son, Chiang Heng (江衡), colluded with Chinese businesspeople and bribed officials in several nations to ship 40,000 tonnes of coal from North Korea to Vietnam and Taiwan, contravening UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

Following questioning on the alleged smuggling operation, which reportedly netted the Chiang family’s company about NT$100 million (US$3.43 million) in profits last year, prosecutors detained Chiang Heng and placed travel restrictions on Chiang Kuo-hua to prevent him from fleeing the nation after posting bail of NT$1 million.

The elder Chiang, a former Taiwan High Court judge, allegedly used his company Ricoh-Union (律岡聯合) to collaborate with Chinese businesspeople and bribe Chinese officials, and chartered the Chinese cargo ship Kai Xiang to transport 40,000 tonnes of anthracite coal from North Korea’s Nampo Port in August and September last year.

The vessel was originally reported to have traveled to Vietnam’s Cam Pha Port, where the coal was sold as fuel to a Formosa Plastics Group factory.

However, Formosa Plastics denied the transaction in a statement released yesterday, saying that its Vietnam operation only imported a shipment of coal from Russia in December last year.

Formosa Plastics officials said they complied with UN sanctions and international regulations, as the tenders required a certificate of origin for the coal stipulating Russia, not North Korea, as the source.

The Kai Xiang, which is registered under a shipping company in China’s Shandong Province, reportedly turned off its automatic identification system and transponder to avoid being monitored, and its crew were prohibited from making telephone calls during the journey.

However, government sources said the CIA had tracked the ship’s movements and passed the information to Taiwanese judicial and national security agencies.

During questioning, witnesses said that Chiang Heng, after learning of the investigation into the smuggling operation, instructed employees to destroy all documents, e-mails and data relating to the Kai Xiang shipment.

Political commentator Wang Rui-te (王瑞德), citing government sources, said that Chiang Kuo-hua used his connections in judicial and political circles to bribe officials in several nations — Taiwan, China, Russia, North Korea and Vietnam — to allow his company to engage in international smuggling for many years, reportedly profiting by more than NT$200 million per year.

Chiang Kuo-hua allegedly fabricated shipping documents, business invoices and transaction records, and changed the source in the certificate of origin from North Korea to Russia to circumvent UN sanctions, Wang said.

Chiang Kuo-hua was a step ahead of investigators, as the CIA’s information and banks’ impending moves to freeze the company’s accounts were leaked to him, enabling him to destroy some evidence and protect his financial assets, Wang said.

Officials said that a ship chartered by the company was last year seized in Kaohsiung, as inspectors suspected that the cargo’s certificate of origin and other documents were fabricated, but Chiang Kuo-hua bribed port officials, who allowed the cargo to be unloaded.

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