The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it is considering reopening investigations into the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) sale of the Broadcasting Corp of China (BCC) in 2006 due to a potentially illegal hidden clause in the contract between the KMT and BCC chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康).
The clause says that if the buyer pays less than 90 percent of the selling price, KMT-controlled Hua Hsia Investment Holding Co (華夏投資公司), with which the BCC’s shares originally resided, would have the right to appoint directors, supervisors and financial officers to the BCC.
The BCC must not make those appointments without the consent of Hua Hsia, the clause states.
Any lending, endorsement or expenditure of at least NT$10 million (US$327,268), as well as the hires and dismissals of financial officers at the BCC must gain the approval of Hua Hsia, the clause says.
The clause could indicate that the KMT has not completely withdrawn from the broadcaster’s operations and that it has contravened legislation barring political parties, government agencies and the military from involvement in the operation of media outlets, NCC spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said yesterday.
If the KMT has continued to appoint at least half of the board members at the BCC according to the hidden clause, that would mean that it has retained effective control over the company and broken the law, in which case the NCC has three options, legal experts said.
It could fine the KMT between NT$200,000 and NT$2 million under Article 44-2 of the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法) and order the KMT to withdraw completely from the BCC, they said.
It could repeal, in part or in full, the administrative injunction it issued to authorize the sale under the Administrative Procedure Act (行政程序法) on grounds that Jaw broke his promise to protect his company from political interventions.
If Jaw presented a fake sales contract to the NCC, misleading it into issuing the injunction, the NCC could also revoke the injunction that approved the sale, they said.
The law would require that the BCC be restored to its original state, meaning all its shares would either have to be transferred back to Hua Hsia, which has closed down, or to the KMT, which would raise the issue of ill-gotten party assets and result in the BCC being returned to the government, experts said.
The KMT’s underselling of the company to Jaw has sparked speculations that the sale was rigged. Such suspicions are aggravated reports that former KMT legislator Kao Yu-jen (高育仁) offered NT$5 billion to buy the BCC, but then-KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was determined to sell it to Jaw for NT$1 billion.
Faced with the NCC’s doubts over the “opaque” transaction he made with the KMT, Jaw in 2006 cited a non-disclosure agreement and declined to divulge the details, but promised the NCC that he would keep political influence at bay at the BCC, after which the NCC approved the transfer of stock rights.
The agreed price between the KMT and Jaw was NT$5.7 billion, but Jaw only paid NT$1 billion, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said in an indictment against Ma.
NCC officials have said they suspect that lawyer and BCC director Chen Ming-hui (陳明暉) and financial officer Lung Ming-chun (龍明春) were appointed by Hua Hsia to help the KMT retain its influence in the BCC.
Even though Jungli Investment Co chairman Albert Yu (余建新) was the owner of Hua Hsia on paper, the KMT was Hua Hsia’s de facto operator and BCC has remained a KMT-controlled company even after the sale to Jaw, the indictment said.
As the NCC suspects that the KMT has broken the law and that Jaw presented it with a false contract, and as the indictment has uncovered new facts about the case, the NCC has requested a copy of the sale contract from the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee and is mulling restarting its probe into the case, Wong said.
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