The Taipei District Court has ordered the detention of a man suspected of cheating a number of people into investing in his “paintings” business, while investigators said four television talk show personalities might be involved in the fraud case.
The district court said last week that Yen Cheng-te (嚴程德) had set up at least four companies to invite people to put money in his “cultural investment business.”
Investigators said Yen set up painting exhibition rooms in his companies in Taipei, Greater Taichung and Taoyuan County, and invited people to invest in his business.
They said the companies promised prospective buyers that if they invested NT$93,000 (US$3,100) in a painting, the companies would buy their share back after five years at twice the amount, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday.
Prospects were also invited to invest NT$100,000 in a painting, which the companies said would then be sold in China, and buyers would receive NT$140,000 in return in 18 months, the newspaper cited investigators as saying.
In all, the companies had attracted investments in more than 5,100 paintings, generating NT$500 million. However, many of the paintings were the work of art college students, investigators said.
The newspaper said that Yen had invited talk show personalities Ying Nai-ching (尹乃菁), Lan Hsuan (蘭萱), Lai Sian-jheng (賴憲政) and Vivian Tsai (蔡玉真) to sell his “painting investment programs.”
Yen held a series of forums titled “Global Trends in the Culture Business and Investment Prospects,” inviting the talk show personalities to discuss the subject with him and another company official, Wu Yong-jian (巫永堅), the newspaper said.
The talk show personalities encouraged people to invest their money in paintings, it said.
In one forum, Ying said the companies had picked up nearly 1,000 new painters and their works were like “potential stocks.”
Wu then said: “We could make hundreds of times the profit in a year.”
Lai yesterday said he had been invited to join these forums last year, receiving about NT$20,000 to NT$30,000 for each appearance.
He added that he was “shocked” that Yen’s investment programs were illegal.
Lan, Tsai and Ying said they had joined the forum, too, but were not clear about the companies’ operations.