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Fugitive Wang You-tseng reportedly killed in car accident in U.S.

2016/05/30 22:57:48

Taipei, May 30 (CNA) Wang You-theng (王又曾), one of Taiwan's most wanted fugitives, died in a car accident in West Covina, California early on May 27 local time, media reports and his friends in Taiwan said Monday.

Media personality Jeffrey Ko (葛樹人) cited his friends in the U.S. as saying in a Facebook post that Wang, 89, was ejected from the back seat of a car driven by his wife Wang Chin She-ying when it was caught in a five-car pile-up.

Wang, who was on his way to the wedding of his granddaughter Wendy, was pronounced dead after arrival at a hospital, Ko wrote.

Wang's eight children in Taiwan, all of whom are banned from leaving the country, were informed of the accident Monday afternoon, their friends confirmed. Six of them have served jail terms, with one still behind bars.

Wang Ying-chieh (王應傑), director-general of the Taipei Chamber of Commerce and a personal friend of the scandal-ridden founder of the Rebar Asia-Pacific Group, said Wang You-theng called him earlier in the day expressing his wish to return to Taiwan.

He also showed concern over the legal cases in which his children are embroiled.

The Rebar scandal came to light in January 2007 after the group's China Rebar Co. and Chia Hsin Food and Synthetic Fiber Co. applied for insolvency restructuring, triggering a run on the Chinese Bank, another Rebar affiliate.

Wang and his wife fled Taiwan on Dec. 30, 2006 to China via Hong Kong, right before the scandal erupted.

Taiwanese authorities placed Wang You-theng and his wife on the country's most-wanted list on Jan. 15, 2007 and have been seeking U.S. assistance to have them repatriated to Taiwan to face criminal charges.

Taiwan missed a chance to nab the couple on Feb. 2, 2007 when they were traveling to Singapore, where immigration authorities tacitly agreed to Taiwan's request for the extradition of the couple, who arrived at the city-state's airport on their way from Los Angeles to Myanmar.

However, Wang and his wife refused to board the Singapore Airlines flight designated by Singaporean immigration authorities that was slated to make a stopover at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport on its way to Los Angeles.

Instead, they demanded to return to the United States on a direct flight to Los Angeles, according to the immigration authorities.

In March, 2008 Taiwanese prosecutors indicted Wang You-theng and 106 others involved in the Rebar Group scandal on a long list of charges, including fraud, money laundering and insider trading.

They sought a prison sentence of 30 years and an unprecedented fine of NT$1.71 billion (US$52.13 million) for the tycoon.

The total losses caused by the Wang family's systematic siphoning off of Rebar Group subsidiaries' assets were estimated at NT$300 billion -- about one-fourth of Taiwan's annual tax revenues in 2008.

Mega International Commercial Bank, the Rebar Group's largest creditor, filed suit in Los Angeles on Feb. 5, 2007 to recover the Rebar Group's outstanding loans. The bank hoped to recover US$210 million, according to bank officials.

Legal sources said Taiwan's prosecutors will likely drop their charges against Wang You-theng once his death has been confirmed by the authorities. But many civil suits against his children are still ongoing.

(By Esme Jiang, Milly Lin, Page Tsai, Tsai Yi-chu and S.C. Chang)