Ex-TV host released on bail over role in animal importation case
Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) Former SET TV host Lee Tian-yi (李天怡) was released on bail of NT$500,000 (US$17,985) Tuesday after being questioned the previous night over suspected profiteering and breach of faith in an animal importation case.
Lee, her husband Kuo Jen-chieh (郭人杰), and the couple's friend Tony Lee (李吳達), who jointly set up a company to help import animals for a local wildlife park, were brought in Monday for questioning by Taipei prosecutors following five separate raids on undisclosed locations by Investigation Bureau agents.
According to Taipei prosecutors, the trio's company was commissioned by SET Group General Manager Chang Rong-hua (張榮華) to import 18 giraffes, white rhinos and antelopes from Africa on behalf of Wanpi World Safari Zoo in Tainan, which is owned by the SET Group.
The deal was first discussed in 2020, but the move to import the animals was called off in August 2021 after local animal protection activists protested.
Prosecutors allege that while the deal was still on, the import company inflated the quoted cost of the animals by an estimated US$250,000, and that some of the money was transferred to Lee and Kuo's bank accounts even though the animals were never brought to Taiwan.
The prosecutors did not specify why payments were made to the company before the animals were imported or how the contract between it and the SET Group was structured.
They indicated, however, that the three could face charges for breach of trust in violation of the Criminal Code for falsifying the cost of the animals.
Kuo and Tony Lee were also released on bail of NT$400,000 and NT$300,000, respectively, Tuesday morning.
Lee Tian-yi resigned from all her duties at SET TV after news of the possible scandal broke.
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