Thu, Oct 10, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Dajia temple official out on bail

FRAUD:An online temple lighting scheme was a pretext for Jenn Lann Temple’s vice chairman to obtain loans for his own business, prosecutors said

By Yang Cheng-chun  /  Staff reporter

Columns of “luminous lamps” stand in the hallway of the Dajia Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung City yesterday.

Photo: Chang Hsuan–che, Taipei Times

Dajia Jenn Lann Temple deputy chairman Cheng Ming-kun (鄭銘坤) was yesterday released on bail of NT$1 million (US$32,415) after being questioned over suspected fraud involving the temple in Taichung and Chunghwa Telecom.

Taichung prosecutors on Tuesday raided several sites after receiving reports of alleged collusion between Cheng and other temple officials with the telecom.

Ten people were summoned for questioning about the scheme, which reportedly involved NT$30 million in illegal profit.

The case involved the practice of lighting “luminous lamps” (光明燈) in temples to pray for good fortune, health, or job advancement among other requests, with prices differing depending on their wishes.

To keep up with technological advancements, Jenn Lann Temple in 2016 started to offer online lighting of “luminous lamps,” with Cheng and Chunghwa Telecom signing an agreement after holding a tender.

Prosecutors said that three companies were allegedly involved in the fraud, one run by Cheng and his daughter, along with Jin Chu Mi Co (金促米) owned by Lee Yue-yu (李岳怡), both of which are in Taichung, and a contractor in New Taipei City.

Cheng, his daughter, Lee, and two other executives at the three companies face charges of forgery and breaches of the Securities and Exchange Act (證券交易法) and the Business Entity Accounting Act (商業會計法).

Four other people were released after questioning yesterday, after posting bail of between NT$200,000 and NT$500,000.

Chunghwa Telecom lent Cheng and executives of the three companies about NT$30 million in cash as part of the project.

However, the companies did not pay back the money, which became default loans on the telecom’s books, prompting an accounting scrutiny and judicial investigation.

The project just did not work out as planned, Cheng said.

“We initiated the online program and made test runs for three months, but our computer system was not compatible with Chunghwa Telecom’s system,” he said.

“There was no formal business agreement with our temple, and we had only made test runs,” he added.

However, prosecutors alleged that the arrangement was a fraudulent scheme, that Cheng’s company and the two others needed funds for their business operations and secured tenders for the online “luminous lamps” project to obtain loans.

An investigation found financial irregularities at Chunghwa Telecom, where prosecutors allegedly uncovered illegal loans to 24 companies over the past two years, resulting in losses of about NT$400 million for the company, which led to the indictment of 49 employees in February.

Additional reporting by Jason Pan

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