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BASEBALL/Ex-agent of baseball cheerleading team held over alleged breach of trust

02/01/2024 04:59 PM
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Rakuten Girls lead fans to cheer during the Rakuten Monkeys' home game against the Fubon Guardians in Taoyuan on Oct. 25, 2022. CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only
Rakuten Girls lead fans to cheer during the Rakuten Monkeys' home game against the Fubon Guardians in Taoyuan on Oct. 25, 2022. CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Feb. 1 (CNA) Chen Yuan-kai (陳元凱), a former agent for the cheerleading squad of the professional Rakuten Monkeys baseball team, was detained Thursday and is being held incommunicado, on suspicion of breach of trust and misappropriation of funds, according to a court ruling.

Chen, who was formerly the agent for the Rakuten Girls, allegedly was covertly soliciting work for the cheerleaders and siphoning off the proceeds, the court ruling showed.

The court said it ruled in favor of prosecutors' request to hold Chen incommunicado based on concerns that he would collude with accomplices to destroy evidence, as inferred from the records of his text messages with another suspect Pu Wei-ching (浦韋青), a former general manager of the Rakuten Monkeys.

Meanwhile, the involvement of Chen's employees has not yet been established, and the matter is still under investigation, the court said.

It also has not yet been determined how much money was made from the alleged underhand cheerleading contracts or how much Chen is accused of swindling, but the evidence so far points to at least NT$26 million in unreported funds, the court said.

Former Rakuten Monkeys manager Pu Wei-ching. CNA file photo
Former Rakuten Monkeys manager Pu Wei-ching. CNA file photo

The matter came to light last year, when the Rakuten Monkeys, one of six teams in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, reported to law enforcement officials that Chen and Pu were believed to be engaged in fraudulent activities, according to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office.

The Rakuten Monkeys accused the two men of underhandedly soliciting work for the cheerleading squad and pocketing the proceeds, which amounted to not just alleged embezzlement but a breach of trust, prosecutors said.

On Tuesday, the Agency Against Corruption under the Ministry of Justice summoned Chen and Pu for questioning and also took statements from four members of the Rakuten Girls and representatives of the companies allegedly involved.

The following day, the two suspects were again summoned for questioning, this time by the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office, after which prosecutors sought a court order to detain Chen while Pu was released on bail of NT$500,000 (US$15,937).

The court granted the detainment request Thursday.

The ruling is open to an interlocutory appeal within 10 days, according to the court.

(By Yeh Chen and Wu Kuan-Hsien)

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