Taiwan sues diplomatic broker in US over Papua New Guinea scandal

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The government filed a suit in the United States to recover funds allegedly stolen by diplomatic broker Ching Chi Ju in the Papua New Guinea scandal, reports said Tuesday.
The scandal broke during the final months of the administration of President Chen Shui-bian in 2008, when it became known that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had paid US$29.8 million (NT$1 billion) to two diplomatic brokers to persuade Papua New Guinea to switch official relations from China to Taiwan.
When the change in diplomatic relations failed to materialize almost a year after the money had been wired in 2006, Taiwan asked for its money back but the two men refused.
One of the brokers, Singapore citizen Wu Szu-tsai, was detained in Taiwan in 2008 and is still serving a 30-months sentence for committing forgery and making false accusations. Earlier this month, Wu was also sentenced to three years and ten months for breach of trust.
Ching, a Taiwanese citizen believed to hold a US passport, disappeared but is widely believed to be staying in the US.
Last year, Singapore ruled that Ching and Wu should return the money to the Taiwan government.
Taiwan filed a civil suit in the Los Angeles High Court which could mean the first step to recover the funds from Ching and his relatives, reports said. Taiwan’s attorney wants the court first to recognize the Singaporean verdict.
The list of defendants also included Ching’s wife, son and daughter, as well as a related business known as JAS Company, reports said.
Ching had bought two plots of land in California and passed the official ownership to his relatives to avoid the consequences of the Singapore verdict, according to reports. Taiwan’s case claims to show that there is a clear connection between the timing of the land deals and the legal case in Singapore.
The attorney working on Taiwan’s behalf has asked for a ban on the transfer of the plots in order to avert further evading tactics, reports said.
Ching apparently has thirty days to respond to the suit.