Sun, Dec 23, 2018 - Page 2 News List

Real-estate firm executives suspected of fraud scheme

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Executives of a real-estate investment company are being investigated for persuading Taiwanese to purchase international properties that allegedly led investors to lose a total of NT$1.2 billion (US$38.96 million).

Police and Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau agents on Thursday raided the eight offices of Asia Pacific International Property Co and Web site Taiwan SouFun, an Asia Pacific affiliate, serving the executives with summons for questioning.

On Friday, Asia Pacific owner Huang Tsui-ping (黃純萍), chief operating officer Lu Wei-hsing (呂威興), executive director Chin Chi-sung (秦啟松) and overseas sales manager Chen Mei-hsuan (陳美璇), as well as Yang Chien-chieh (楊建傑) and his wife, Liao Hsiu-min (廖秀敏), who together operated Taiwan SouFun, were questioned, Taipei prosecutors said.

The executives are suspected of financial fraud and breaching the Banking Act (銀行法), the prosecutors said, adding that they would likely bring other charges as well.

On its Web site, Asia Pacific offered investments in properties in the UK, Australia, China, Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Prosecutors said they are specifically investigating NT$1.2 billion in allegedly defrauded funds from two UK investment opportunities offered by Asia Pacific: A car park near Glasgow International Airport in Scotland and a hotel in Liverpool, England.

The two UK properties were first promoted in April 2014, with Asia Pacific offering Taiwanese a share in the car park investment for £20,000 (US$25,316) and a share in the hotel for £90,000.

Asia Pacific allegedly guaranteed an 8 percent return on the hotel shares, with investors promised returns of 24 percent over three years, while the carpark shares matured over six years, with investors promised returns of 8 percent for the first two years, 10 percent for the next two and 12 percent for the last two.

Taiwan SouFun reportedly set up a company in the UK to manage the property investments and Yang held investment seminars across Taiwan, promoting the two properties, touting the high returns and persuading Taiwanese to invest with the company.

However, some investors discovered that the UK-registered company declared bankruptcy in 2014, while Yang and other executives allegedly continued to pitch the properties and draw more investors into the scheme.

Prosecutors said they were attempting to discover where the suspects were keeping the invested funds.

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