Thu, May 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Court rejects property tycoon’s request for bail

FLIGHT RISK:Mike Lin is suspected of colluding with another businessman to obtain a NT$200 million loan from Entie Bank and then pocketing most of the money

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei District Court yesterday denied a request that business tycoon Mike Lin (林原廣), who is under investigation for banking fraud, be released on bail.

Lin, 48, is the chairman of Image Taiwan Hotel Group, which operates the Taipei City Hotel and a number of real-estate development projects to turn old buildings into business hotels.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office in March searched the offices and residences of several suspects, and summoned 11 people for questioning, including Lin, Image Taiwan chief financial officer Liao Wan-ting (廖婉瑩), subcontractor Huang Yao-hsien (黃耀賢) and Lai Wen-pin (賴文賓), the head of an assets management company.

Lin is suspected of colluding with Lai to obtain a NT$200 million (US$6.68 million) loan from Entie Commercial Bank in 2014 to cover the financial losses incurred by Image Taiwan Hotel Group, prosecutors said.

The company defaulted on the loan, but prosecutors said they have evidence that most of the money went into Lin’s personal bank accounts.

Prosecutors said they plan to file charges of fraud and offenses in breach of the Business Entity Accounting Act (商業會計法) and the Banking Act (銀行法) against Lin, Liao and Huang.

An investigation by prosecutors indicated that Lin directed renovation works at the Taipei City Hotel, whereby he allegedly colluded with Lai’s company to produce fraudulent receipts and transaction records, which Lin used as financial documents to obtain the NT$200 million loan.

Lin allegedly instructed his chief financial officer to falsely hike expenditures for the renovation works undertaken by Huang’s company and falsified accounting records for Image Taiwan to make it appear that the company was financially sound.

When prosecutors were investigating the alleged financial irregularities in March, Lin instructed his employees to tell the authorities that he was away on business, in an attempt to hide and evade arrest.

However, law enforcement officers caught Lin driving a Porsche in Taipei, with Liao, who is also his girlfriend, by his side.

The court ordered that the couple be detained, citing risks of tampering with evidence and flight.

A high-profile property developer, Lin said he planned to expand his business by turning more historical buildings into theme hotels across the nation’s major cities.

Lin’s crown jewel is the Taipei City Hotel in Datong District (大同). In 2016, he also sought to form business partnerships with other financial groups to turn old office buildings into hotels in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) and Nangang District (南港).

At the time, Lin said he was focused on business for independent travelers from China, while also pumping up his company’s market share in the growing tourism market for visitors from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and other Southeast Asian nations.

Lin promoted himself as a “new force” in the hospitality industry, promoting nostalgia for Taiwanese culture, instead of pursuing new trends and styles from the US and Europe.

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