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Judges order Chen's family to return overseas money

Judges order Chen's family to return overseas money

Taipei, April 2 (CNA) The possibility of releasing former President Chen Shui-bian on bail is slim if the NT$700 million in his family's Swiss bank accounts isn't remitted to Taiwan, the presiding judge in Chen's money laundering and corruption cases said Friday.
At a Taiwan High Court collegial hearing, Teng Chen-chiu said Chen and his family should return the money to an account designated by the Special Investigation Division of the Prosecutor-General's Office if they wanted Chen to have a chance of being released when his current detention period expires on April 23.
However, Chen's lawyer Cheng Wen-lung argued that Chen's son Chen Chih-chung and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching have signed documents required to retrieve all the money in overseas bank accounts, and that whether the funds can be returned is beyond their control.
Cheng said the collegial panel should not give an order that the defendants are unable to fulfill.
Cheng pointed out that a slush fund from the scandal-plagued Lafayette frigate deal struck between Taiwan and France in the early 1990s is still frozen in a Swiss bank account, adding that there are many reasons for the failure to return overseas funds to Taiwan.
For example, Taiwan's position on capital punishment could be a factor affecting the return of overseas funds, Cheng said.
After Teng reiterated that whether the funds are remitted would be taken into consideration when deciding about the former president's release, Chen Chih-chung promised to collaborate with prosecutors to have the money returned.
Former first lady Wu Shu-jen, however, expressed discontent over Chen's detention, saying that the ex-president has been detained for more than 500 days and that her family members have done their best to return the money.
The panel is scheduled to conclude oral arguments on April 7 and make a ruling on June 11.
Also Friday, prosecutors sought to exempt the former first family's bookkeeper Chen Chen-hui from punishment and from sharing in the repayment of NT$100 million in misappropriated funds with the Chens and two of her supervisors, saying she should be given special treatment because she pleaded guilty.
Three other defendants in the cases also pleaded guilty: Rich Group Chairman Kuo Chuan-ching, who has been indicted for giving bribes to the former first family; James Lee, former chief of the Hsinchu Science Park, who was indicted for accepting NT$30 million in bribes in the sale of a plot of private land in Lungtan, Taoyuan County; and a friend of the former first family, Tsai Ming-che, who allegedly played the role of a go-between in the handling of bribes and money laundering.
(By Lai Yiu-chia and Y.L. Kao)




Updated : 2021-03-04 23:41 GMT+08:00