Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Evidence mounting against Han Kuo-yu: media reports

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu talks to reporters at a construction site in Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: Huang Chia-lin, Taipei Times

Judicial investigators have reportedly gathered more evidence and interviewed witnesses for a probe into allegations of financial improprieties by Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) when he was head of Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Corp amid new information allegedly provided by unnamed sources.

The probe was launched by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office in January 2017 after Han was accused of using his position as general manager of the firm to channel monetary gifts for undue financial benefit.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) in October 2016 said that the company, under Han’s direction, hiked up prices of fruits and vegetables to make huge profits during a supply shortage due to several typhoons.

Tuan also accused Han and his close friends of benefiting personally by ordering fruit gift boxes from the firm’s board members, who are in the fruit production and supply business, saying that the company paid significantly inflated prices for the gift boxes.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) in November 2016 said that he had access to financial records that purportedly showed the company’s revenue from January to September of that year totaling NT$96 million (US$3.1 million at the current exchange rate).

Liang said that Han ordered NT$77.02 million of that revenue disbursed to company employees as year-end bonuses and rewards, in addition to their regular salaries.

As the firm is a state-controlled entity, with most shares owned by the Taipei City Government and the Council of Agriculture, bonuses and rewards to staff must be approved by the board of directors, but Han gave himself authority to issue them, Liang said.

Bypassing the board of directors resulted in financial losses for the partially government-owned firm and the public, Liang said, accusing Han of breaches of trust and contraventions of provisions of the Company Act (公司法).

The Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine and the Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) yesterday cited a political pundit as saying that Taipei prosecutors would likely file formal charges against Han, as they have identified the money flow of alleged financial improprieties at the firm under him and investigators have conducted searches for evidence.

Prosecutors have searched offices and residences of people connected with the case, including a woman surnamed Wang (王) who local media have reported had an extramarital affair with Han for several years that produced a daughter out of wedlock and was kept secret from his wife, Lee Chia-feng (李佳芬), the pundit was quoted as saying.

Someone at the prosecutors’ office leaked plans to raid Wang’s residence in New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang District (新莊), which tipped off Huang Wen-tsai (黃文財) — a close friend who Han appointed as president of Kaohsiung City Shipping Co — who reportedly grabbed “incriminating evidence and documents” and hid on the building’s roof during the search, the pundit was quoted as saying.

The prosecutors’ office yesterday said that it had no evidence of Huang undertaking the alleged actions during the search of Wang’s residence.

The office said that it always abides by the principle of maintaining confidentiality of a case under investigation, adding that any official found leaking information would be prosecuted.

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