Investigators probing allegations of financial impropriety by Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) when he led Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Corp (TAPMC) have allegedly found that he disbursed revenue to reward close aides and executives, and was paid an annual salary and incentives totaling NT$4 million (US$128,452 at the current exchange rate), far more than his predecessors.
A probe into Han’s allegedly illicit dealings when serving as TAPMC general manager from January 2013 to January 2017 has found that he used his control over the company’s revenue to pay for executives’ trips abroad, the Chinese-language Mirror Media reported yesterday.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office in a search last week uncovered documents from TAPMC board meetings and company financial records from the period in question, the magazine said.
Photo: Huang Hsu-lei, Taipei Times
Han, who was appointed to the position by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration, revamped the system to pay rewards, bonuses and other incentives with company revenue, most of which was awarded to high-ranking executives, while low-ranking staff did not receive any bonuses, the reported cited investigators as finding.
According to the report, Han’s restructuring directly benefited himself, as he received a higher salary and bonuses than his predecessors.
Each year, Han collected about NT$3.5 million, and in his last year received more than NT$4 million, the report said, adding that the previous general manager collected NT$1.95 million in salary and bonuses.
Former TAPMC general manager Wu Yin-ning (吳音寧), who was appointed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, received NT$2.5 million during her term from June 2017 to November last year, Mirror Media reported.
Han allegedly used company revenue and public funds to send executives and friends in the corporation on trips abroad without board approval, and abused his position to give monetary gifts for undue financial benefits and to expand his political influence, the report said.
TAPMC is majority-owned by the Taipei City Government and the Council of Agriculture, and as such, bonuses and rewards must be approved by its board of directors, but Han allegedly gave himself authority to disburse them as favors, the report said.
It also listed TAPMC as having 600 employees, including 164 new staff hired by Han, many of whom were allegedly friends and relatives of Han and his wife.
Asked about the allegations, Han said that all company expenses during his term had been approved during shareholders’ and board meetings.
“All the company’s expenses were legal. What is the point of investigating them now?” Han asked reporters after an interview with KMT Deputy Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) for Broadcasting Corp of China in Kaohsiung.
Many people had warned him that the DPP would try to undermine the KMT’s presidential hopefuls by manipulating prosecutors and via other unjust means, he said.
“I did not believe that, but now I am starting to wonder if that is true,” he added.
He said he hopes that different political parties could remain rational when competing with each other and not resort to mudslinging or spreading rumors, as it would hurt the nation’s democracy.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) condemned Han for using the company’s revenue as a personal treasury.
“During Han’s term as general manager, he gave out rewards and bonuses on a whim, including extra pay for himself, contravening financial regulations. He should be charged with breach of trust,” Liang said.
Additional reporting by Ann Maxon
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