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Ex-president charged with breach of trust (update)

2018/07/10 16:46:09

Taipei, July 10 (CNA) Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been indicted for breach of trust and violating the Securities and Exchange Act for his involvement in the disposal of assets owned by the Kuomintang (KMT), the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said Tuesday.

The two principal figures involved in managing the KMT's finances, Chang Che-chen (張哲琛) and Wang Hai-ching (汪海清), were also indicted on the same charges.

Chang served as chairman of the KMT-owned Central Investment Corp. (中央投資公司) and Wang was general manager of the company, the first investment company founded by the political party in 1971.

The prosecutors office said the indictment covers the KMT's disposal of Hua Hsia Investment Holding Co. (華夏公司) in December 2005, China Television (中國電視公司) in between February and December 2006, and the old KMT headquarters building in Taipei in March 2006.

The charges are also related to the party's selling of Central Motion Picture Co. (中央電影公司) in April 2006 and the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC, 中國廣播公司) in December 2006.

Those practices all occurred at the time when Ma served as the KMT chairman.

Prosecutors said Wang and Chang used an elaborate eight-step financial scheme that Ma approved to enabled the sale of KMT media companies and other assets for less than their publicly stated value.

The scheme led the KMT's investment companies to suffer losses of NT$1.5 billion (US$49 million), and BCC to suffer losses of up to NT$2.8 billion, the indictment said.

It also accused the three of costing the KMT NT$7.3 billion by selling the three media companies and the party's old headquarters in Taipei at prices below market value.

A key part of the prosecutors' case alleges that Ma, Chang and Wang were found to have "covered up the behavior of disposing party assets" while trying to withdraw from media businesses before the Dec. 26, 2005 deadline set by the Radio and Television Act.

Just a day before the deadline, Ma, Chang and Wang insisted on signing a deal with the China Times Group and its then chairman Albert Yu (余建新) for the sale of Hua Hsia Investment and its holdings of the KMT's three media companies -- China Television, Central Motion Picture, and BCC.

They did that despite knowing that Yu did not have enough capital to purchase the KMT's media assets and before the companies had reached consensus on the sale of Hua Hsia's holdings in the three companies, prosecutors said.

In the Hua Hsia case, Ma was found to have instructed Chang and Wang to sell the company's stock rights to Yu without having brought the proposal to the KMT's Central Standing Committee or any of its investment holding companies, including Central Investment, for discussion, prosecutors said.

When it was found in early 2006 that Yu did not have enough money to acquire the three companies and only wanted to buy China Television, Ma ordered Wang and Chang not to let the deal collapse so that the KMT would not have to go back on its promise of disposing its media companies to comply with the law, prosecutors alleged.

Because of that, the three made repeated concessions to Yu's request for a lower price, and Wang and Chang proposed the complicated, eight-step financial scheme to allow Yu to buy the TV station for less than had been stated publicly, prosecutors said.

They said Ma was aware that the eight-step scheme might violate the Securities and Exchange Act but still agreed to it anyway.

In the case of the sale of the KMT's Taipei headquarters building to the Chang Yung-fa Foundation, prosecutors said the three sold the land and building for NT$2.3 billion, well below the internally appraised value of NT$2.7 billion.

The KMT denounced the 700-page indictment as "a surprise raid" and called prosecutors as "political hitmen" who have brought shame on judicial independence and the justice system.

Ma office spokeswoman Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) said it was "not surprising" that Ma was indicted, but she said she felt "angry" that the district prosecutors' office was so willing to serve as a "hired political hitman" for the government of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Chief prosecutor Chen Chia-hsiu (陳佳秀) denied any political interference after Tuesday's press briefing, saying the office knew the case would be politically charged and carefully reviewed the evidence collected during the investigation on a weekly basis.

(By Wang Yang-yu, Frances Huang and Elizabeth Hsu)