An international law expert has spoken in support of Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控) in its decade-long dispute over the managing rights to state-run Chang Hwa Commercial Bank (CHB, 彰化銀行) ahead of the lender’s general meeting and board of directors elections on Friday next week, local media reported yesterday.
Singapore-based Surfeit Harvest Investment Holdings Pte Ltd, a Taishin shareholder, has sought arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague, Netherlands, over the Ministry of Finance’s actions.
Stephan Talmon, a professor of public law, public international law and EU law at the University of Bonn and director of the university’s Institute of Public International Law, on Sunday said that the ministry’s opposition has harmed the interests of foreign investors and could damage the nation’s reputation as an investment destination in the eyes of the international community, a report yesterday in the Chinese-language China Times said.
As Taishin Financial is the single largest shareholder in the bank, the ministry’s refusal to support the company in gaining a majority of seats on the board of directors would be regarded as unfair to the interests of foreign investors in Taiwanese companies, no matter how small their stake might be, the newspaper quoted Talmon as saying.
Surfeit is protected through a trade pact between Taiwan and Singapore, Talmon said, referring to the Agreement Between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership.
Talmon also said that it is likely that the Hague-based court might advise Taiwan to halt its inappropriate actions against Taishin Financial in the procedure of the second instant.
However, the ministry questioned the validity of Talmon’s claims and said that he might be biased as his law practice is housed in the same chambers as other attorneys employed by Surfeit.
The Germany-born Talmon is a member of the 20 Essex Street Chambers in London
A number of other arbitrators in the case also have ties to the chambers in question, the ministry said.
The ministry questioned Surfeit’s motivation in seeking arbitration, as the Singaporean company purchased shares in Taishin Financial after the government had secured its hold over the bank’s management during the previous board of directors’ election.
CHB and other state-run companies are public assets, and while the government has always upheld the interests of foreign investors, the ministry must prioritize preserving the public interest, as the Taiwanese public is a stakeholder in state-run companies.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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