Two leading Chiayi City Council members were found guilty of fraud and each sentenced to 17 months in jail for forgery amounting to NT$40.5 million (US$1.36 million).
The Chiayi District Court convicted Chiayi City Council Speaker Chuang Feng-an (莊豐安) and Deputy Speaker Su Tse-feng (蘇澤峰) on charges relating to real estate loans in 2017 and 2018.
The two, who had been elected to the city council as independents, both vowed to appeal, maintaining their innocence.
Four others embroiled in the case, real-estate agents, a land administration official and the owner of the plots of land involved, were found guilty and received two-year sentences, which may be appealed.
Investigators said that Su had plans to buy a property in western Chiayi valued at NT$15 million, and in February 2017 colluded with estate agents and land administration official to produce a forged contract that put the value at NT$34 million.
Su took the contract to the Lutsao Township Farmers’ Association, which granted him a NT$15 million loan, ostensibly to cover part of the mortgage for the property. In 2018, he borrowed a further NT$5 million and NT$1 million, for a total of NT$21 million.
The court found that Chuang followed suit, intending to buy a nearby property at the same lot, also valued at NT$15 million, and colluding with the estate agent to produce a forged document for a sales contract of NT$33 million, for which he took out loans amounting to NT$19.5 million in 2017.
Staff at the farmers’ association testified that, when they looked into the details, they found the contracts had been forged, claiming prices that were far higher than the actual property transaction.
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