A Chiayi couple who had been detained as suspects in an illegal remittance ring that reportedly transferred NT$8 billion (US$255.05 million at the current exchange rate) between Taiwan and China over one year, were yesterday released by a bail court judge due to procedural errors.
The husband and wife were on Tuesday detained by prosecutors and Investigation Bureau officers in raids in Chiayi and Taipei, and taken in for questioning on suspicion of contravening the Banking Act (銀行法), the Chiayi District Prosecutors’ Office said.
Officers confiscated NT$240 million in wrapped bundles of cash, prosecutors said.
Photo: Wang Shan-yen, Taipei Times
The man, surnamed Wu (吳), allegedly set up an “underground bank” for providing money transfers and remittance services, as many Taiwanese companies doing business in China need such services, they said, adding that Wu had savings and cross-strait experience from managing a trading company with offices in Taiwan and China, and in late 2017 started his own banking operation.
Analyzing Wu’s accounting ledgers and records showed that he had conducted NT$8 billion in money transfers and remittances, with his operation attracting clients by offering better exchange rates than legal banks, they added.
The prosecutors said they applied yesterday to have the couple detained, pending the investigation, and their communication restricted, citing a risk of flight, possible collusion with suspects and tampering with evidence.
However, the judge rejected the prosecutors’ arguments and released the couple without bail, saying that there was a lack of evidence and possible procedural errors.
“The raids were conducted in the morning, with prosecutors searching the couple’s residences and storage areas. Then, with the couple’s consent, they were taken to the local Investigation Bureau office for questioning,” Chiayi District Court spokesperson Hung Chia-lan (洪嘉蘭) said.
“Later in the afternoon, prosecutors uncovered a large amount of cash at a house belonging to the wife’s family. After tallying up the amount, prosecutors considered the seized money as loot or illegal gain related to a criminal case, and ordered the couple’s arrest, in compliance with procedures in the Criminal Code,” Hung said.
The couple had restricted movement for several hours when beign questioning, Hung said.
“The prosecutors had not established a connection between the seized money and the couple’s alleged illegal money transfers,” Hung added. “The evidence presented thus far has been unable to prove that the money represented illegal gains resulting from their breaching the Banking Act.”
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