An international legal dispute between the Republic of China (ROC) and Singapore-based Strategic Technologies could result in Taiwan’s assets in the UK being seized should a British court rule in the firm’s favor.
The dispute stems from Taipei’s efforts in 2012 to regain the illegal gains of arms dealer Andrew Wang (汪傳浦) from a Cayman Islands account and the company filing a claim over the same accounts. Wang died in London in 2015.
The firm has said it has legitimate debtor’s claims to the money, citing a consent order signed by the Ministry of National Defense.
The ministry signed the order at the behest of then-prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘), who was presiding over efforts to obtain Taiwan’s claims to kickbacks Wang was found to have received for facilitating the navy’s purchase of Lafayette-class frigates from France in the early 1990s.
The company in 2012 filed a request with a Caymanian court to uphold a 2002 Singaporean court ruling and to confiscate the US$3.42 million in Wang’s account as capital and interest.
In 2002, the Singaporean High Court ruled in favor of the firm in a lawsuit against the ministry over its confiscation in 1998 of a US$140,000 guarantee due to Strategic Technologies’ failure to deliver an underground test range measuring system as part of a US$1.96 million contract.
The Singaporean court ordered the ministry to pay the firm compensation of US$1.57 million.
Strategic Technologies has cited the 2002 ruling to justify attempts to confiscate ROC property in Belgium, France and the US.
The company filed for registration of enforcement of foreign judgement over the Singaporean ruling with the British court, which approved the filing in 2005.
The ministry has dismissed the Singaporean court’s ruling, saying that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, because, per their contract, any legal conflicts should be resolved in a Taiwanese court under Taiwanese law.
In 2012, the company’s claims were upheld by the Caymanian court, meaning that under the consent order, the ministry would have to cede the funds to Strategic Technologies.
In 2016, the British court approved the company’s registration to acknowledge the Caymanian ruling.
Seizing the victory, Strategic Technologies filed a claim with the British court to seize all ROC assets in the UK, including Taiwan’s representative office, the central bank’s London branch and Bank of Taiwan’s (臺灣銀行) London office.
The assets were last year seized by the British government as “collateral.” A ruling was scheduled to be announced in London yesterday.
Ministry officials said that they are looking at measures to address the issue, adding that specific details could not be disclosed until after the ruling.
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