Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 3 News List

KMT headquarters hearing to be held in May: committee

FINE PRINT:The ill-gotten assets committee said it has acquired a 1984 rental contract that says the KMT was to return the property to the central government

By Chen Yu-fu and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee is to hold a public hearing next month to investigate the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) NT$2 billion (US$68.5 million at the current exchange rate) estimated profit from the sale of its former headquarters on Taipei’s Zhongshan S Road, facing the Presidential Office Building, which it acquired for below the market price, the committee said yesterday.

The party originally paid NT$374 million for the property, but resold it to the Chang Yung-Fa Foundation for NT$2.3 billion while former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was in office, the committee said, adding that it would seek to recover the profit made on the sale.

The public hearing scheduled for May 22 will aim to clarify details surrounding the party’s “forcible occupation, low-cost rent, [subsequent] low-cost purchase and resale” of the property, committee spokeswoman Shih Chin-fang (施錦芳) said, adding that the issue is particularly relevant given the property’s location within the Boai Special District (博愛特區), where real-estate values are high.

Land records show that the property originally belonged to the Japanese Red Cross Society’s Taiwan branch, which the Republic of China government claimed after World War II.

The KMT moved into the property after coming to Taiwan in 1949 and used the structure as its party headquarters free of rent until April 1984, when it starting paying rent of only NT$300 per ping (3.31m2), Shih said.

In June 1990, the then-KMT government sold the property to Gao Ming-hui (高銘輝) and two other KMT members without holding competitive bidding, selling it for well below the market value at the time of NT$4.5 billion, the committee said.

“Given that Cathay Life Insurance in 1987 paid the government the sky-high price of NT$900,000 per ping for the property that is now occupied by the Westin Taipei, how could they justify paying just more than NT$200,000 per ping [for a similarly valued property]?” the committee asked.

The committee has retrieved the rental contract signed by the party in 1984, which clearly stipulates that the party was required to return the property to the central government after its rental ended, Shih said.

After martial law was lifted in 1987, “the national treasury became the party treasury” and the property was sold without obstruction, she said.

“Can you say that they did not use their authoritarian power to acquire the property?” she said.

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