Thailand's Finance Ministry will sue a former central bank governor for US$1.6 billion, blaming him for a failed defense of the baht against speculative trading that led to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, officials said yesterday. \nThe ministry's Financial Institutions Development Fund has completed more than three years of investigation and submitted a civil lawsuit to the public prosecutor against Rerngchai Marakanond. \nBut since no one expects Rerngchai to possess or pay such a huge amount -- even if ordered by a court -- the lawsuit would appear to be simply an attempt by the government to apportion blame for the region's greatest economic debacle. \nRerngchai was Bank of Thailand governor during the crucial May-June 1997 period when speculative currency trading of the baht had become rampant. The bank tried to protect the baht by using its foreign exchange reserves, which dwindled from US$32 billion to about US$800 million in a matter of weeks. \nAs the defense became untenable, Thailand was forced to devalue the baht on July 2, triggering the economic crisis across Asia. Thailand later had to seek a US$17.2 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund to keep its economy afloat. \nThe investigation singled out Rerngchai as responsible for the part of the losses incurred from the national reserves, said Pairat Kangwansura, a government prosecutor responsible for the case. \nPairat told reporters the suit could be filed once it was approved by Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. \nThe investigation committee found that Rerngchai would not face criminal charges as he had made honest mistakes, but instead a civil suit would seek 70 billion baht (US$1.6 billion) in damages to the state, Pairat said. \nHe did not say how or why that amount was decided on. \nRerngchai maintained he was innocent and was being made a scapegoat. \n"Forget about 70 billion baht. I don't even have 10 million to pay back and since I did not do anything wrong why do I have to shoulder that responsibility?" Rerngchai said yesterday.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations