A High Court ruling yesterday could pave the way for the return to the government of US$520 million of illegal proceeds from arms dealer Andrew Wang’s (汪傳浦) family in the latest chapter of the Lafayette frigate procurement scandal .
This amount would be in addition to a 2019 ruling by the Supreme Court for the return of US$312.5 million while Wang’s family, who is living in Europe, continued to fight the charges.
Wang reportedly died in the UK in 2015.
Image composed by Wu Cheng-feng, Taipei Times
Ministry of Justice officials said that through investigations and cooperation with foreign authorities, they found that Wang had stashed his illegal proceeds from the Lafayette frigate scandal in 61 accounts, mainly in Swiss banks, as well as accounts held by his family in banks in about a dozen countries and territories, including Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Jersey island and the Isle of Man.
Ministry officials have asked these countries and jurisdictions to freeze the assets pending court rulings on the case in Taiwan, media reports said.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Switzerland in February agreed to return US$266 million to Taiwan, while the procedure for the return of another US$312.5 million is under way, ministry officials said.
Judicial investigators said that Wang’s widow and his four children have continued to file lawsuits against the government in an attempt to hold on to the estimated US$600 million in their overseas accounts.
In 1991, Wang brokered the deal between French contractor Thomson-CSF (later renamed Thales Group) and the Taiwanese military to purchase six frigates.
The deal soon became embroiled in allegations of corruption, bribery and other illegal activities involving Wang, Taiwanese naval officials and many other parties.
Wang fled Taiwan on Dec. 20, 1993, after the body of navy captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓) was found in waters off Taiwan’s east coast on Dec. 9 that year.
Yin was reportedly a whistle-blower who had planned to report the graft and money being siphoned off by numerous people involved in the deal.
A fugitive since 1993 who is on Taiwan’s most wanted list, Wang reportedly died in the UK in 2015 at the age of 86. However, some say he faked his death to avoid prosecution.
Prosecutors in 2006 indicted Wang on bribery, money laundering and related illegal actions, seeking a life sentence for him, as well as a 16-year term for his wife, and terms of between 11 and 14 years for his four children.
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