Mon, Sep 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Assets committee bars KMT from selling Palau hotel

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

The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee has blocked an attempt by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to sell a hotel it owns in Palau, the committee said.

The party hoped to sell the Palasia Hotel Palau to raise campaign funds for the November nine-in-one elections, but the committee sent a member to Palau to block the sale, it said, adding that it would use the property to strengthen Taiwan-Palau ties.

The hotel was built by the KMT through the Central Investment Co (中央投資公司), which the committee identified as a KMT affiliate in November 2016.

The hotel last month marked its 20th anniversary and the Central Investment Co sent people to sell off its shares under the pretense of joining the anniversary celebrations, the committee said.

The company owns 80 percent of the hotel’s shares through its subsidiary Central Investment BVI Co (中投BVI公司), while 20 percent is held by local investors as required by Palau law, the committee said.

The hotel is valued at NT$250 million (US$8.14 milllion) and stands in the city center on Koror Island, surrounded by shopping centers and close to the Republic of China embassy, the committee said, adding that it is a prominent symbol of Taiwan in Palau.

Selling the hotel would be a blow to the two countries’ relationship, the committee said.

During then-president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) presidency, then-KMT treasurer Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英) in 1996 invested in the hotel’s construction with about NT$2 billion of party funds, the committee said, adding that Lee hoped the hotel would help Taiwan establish diplomatic relations with Palau, as well as boost tourism to the country.

The hotel opened in 1998. In December 1999, the two countries officially established diplomatic relations.

In November 2015, then-KMT chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) took out a newspaper advertisement for the sale of 800,000 shares in the hotel, which Chinese multinational conglomerate Wanda Group expressed interest in purchasing for US$20 million.

In the end the KMT could not find a buyer to match its terms, the committee said.

The KMT last year applied to the committee to sell the hotel after its assets were frozen, but the committee rejected the request.

The party applied again last month, citing losses from a reduced number of Chinese tourists to Palau, but the committee again rejected the request.

The KMT then immediately applied to have access to a portion of its frozen assets, citing the need to renovate the hotel.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) criticized the KMT’s need for an “enormous amount of capital,” saying that the party must suddenly have realized that it needs money for the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections.

KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said the hotel was part of “the KMT’s assets to begin with.”

“It is being sold now because there is a need. [The sale] is legal, rational and reasonable, and should be allowed,” Wu said.

Additional reporting by Lin Liang-sheng

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