Taiwan to negotiate on former first family’s assets

WHEELING AND DEALING:Chen Shui-bian’s family allegedly bought two US properties with the proceeds of a NT$200 million bribe made by Yuanta Securities Co in 2004

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 - Page 3

The Ministry of Justice said yesterday it would negotiate with US authorities about the disposal of two properties in the US owned by the former first family.

The properties in New York and Virginia were acquired by the family of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), allegedly with bribes, according to a statement released on Wednesday by the US Department of Justice.

The US department said it has confiscated the two properties — a condominium in Manhattan and a residence in Keswick, Virginia — which have a combined value of about US$2.1 million.

The Ministry of Justice and related government agencies will discuss the matter before negotiating with the US department on how proceeds from the disposal of the properties should be divided, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) said.

Under US law, parties that have provided assistance to locate assets obtained with illegal funds can ask to share the proceeds from the sale of such properties, the deputy minister said at a news conference.

He said Taiwan maintains judicial cooperation with Washington and had asked for help to find properties purchased by the former first family with the use of bribes.

“We will discuss the matter with the relevant agencies” and will negotiate with the US to see if both sides can share the proceeds, Chen Shou-huang said.

Chen Shui-bian’s family used Hong Kong and Swiss bank accounts, British Virgin Islands companies and a St Kitts and Nevis trust to buy the two properties, according to the US Department of Justice.

The purchases were allegedly made with proceeds from a bribe of NT$200 million (US$6 million) accepted by former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) from Yuanta Securities Co in 2004, the department said. The properties were registered under the name of her son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中).

“The former president of Taiwan’s family allegedly accepted millions in bribes in exchange for official action favoring Yuanta Securities, and we have now taken possession of two valuable properties purchased with their alleged spoils,” US Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division said.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said the action was part of a continued effort by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents to identify, locate and seize properties and accounts in the US belonging to Chen Shui-bian and his family.

“HSI will continue to find and seize the US assets of foreign corrupt officials who try to use our country to conceal the illicit proceeds and profits of their crimes,” Morton said.