The High Court on Monday lifted travel restrictions on Chinese Taipei Baseball Association (CTBA) chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) after he posted a guaranteed bond of NT$500 million (US$16.34 million) to attend meetings in Japan.
Koo, 55, has been embroiled in two major financial scandals, which are under appeal.
He became the owner of the Brothers Baseball Club in Taiwan’s professional circuit after a NT$400 million deal to buy the Brother Elephants franchise in 2013. He was last year elected as CTBA chairman.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times
After reviewing an application by Koo’s lawyers and considering his role as CTBA chairman, the court lifted the ban so that he could travel to Japan next month to participate in high-level meetings for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and attend the final round of the Premier 12 competition.
CTBA secretary-general Richard Lin (林宗成) yesterday said that “we welcome the decision. Koo as CTBA chairman needs to take part at these important WBSC meetings, where details of organizing baseball event at Tokyo Olympics will be discussed. Taiwan’s team doing well in recent competitions and Koo being allowed to travel to Japan are positive developments, and have boosted the morale of the baseball community.”
The court lifted the ban from Nov. 8 to 23, as Koo’s lawyers cited the Premier 12 final round to be held in Tokyo from Nov. 11 to 17, and WBSC members’ meeting and sessions with Olympic officials to be held in Osaka on Nov. 21, when a board election is to be held and Koo is expected to contest a position on the WBSC executive body.
The court said in a statement that the judges agreed with the application, “as the meetings will concern our nation’s rights to participate in important competitions and have common benefits for society.”
The court imposed the travel restriction on Koo in September last year after upholding a conviction for embezzlement and illegal financial dealings in a case involving Red Fire Development Co.
It gave him a reduced prison sentence of three-and-a-half years in the second ruling in the case.
The Taipei District Court in the first ruling in October 2010 sentenced Koo to nine years in prison for breach of trust, embezzlement and related financial irregularities under the Securities and Exchange Act (證券交易法) and the Banking Act (銀行法).
Koo made illegal profits estimated at up to NT$1.3 billion, the court said at the time.
Following a retrial, the High Court in May 2013 sentenced him to nine years and eight months in prison, and imposed a NT$150 million fine.
Investigators found that from 2004 to 2007, Koo and other senior CTBC Financial Holding Co executives transferred money to an offshore shell company, Hong Kong-registered Red Fire Development, where NT$27.5 billion was used to purchase a 9.9 percent stake in Mega Financial Holding Co, but the transactions were not approved by CTBC Financial’s board, investigators said.
Koo, who was then chairman of CTBC Bank Co and deputy chairman of CTBC Financial, was responsible for ordering the transfers and the subsequent financial transactions, they said.
Koo was also indicted among six defendants on charges of breach of trust and embezzling US$300 million of company funds as well as other illegal financial dealings during CTBC Life Insurance Co Ltd’s acquisition of Taiwan Life Insurance Co.
The Taipei District Court acquitted all defendants in the first ruling in August.
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