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MOFA trying to verify reported death of Lafayette arms broker

MOFA trying to verify reported death of Lafayette arms broker

Taipei, Feb. 5 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday it is still awaiting confirmation by British authorities of the reported death of Andrew Wang (???), a Taiwanese arms broker implicated in a corruption scandal dating back to the 1991 procurement of Lafayette-class frigates from France. Upon receiving news of Wang's death at the age of 86, Taiwan's representative office in the United Kingdom asked British authorities to help verify the information, said Zhang Ming-zhong (???), director-general of the foreign ministry's Department of European Affairs, at a regular news conference. "British officials with the Home Office and Ministry of Justice have been trying to confirm the report, but as of Feb. 4 we had not received any information from them," Zhang said. He said that in the U.K., the relatives of a deceased British citizen are required to register the death with the relevant authorities within eight days. It would be difficult to confirm a person's death before the registration is done, but the foreign ministry will continue to try by every possible means to verify the report, Zhang said. Wang reportedly had been in hiding in the United Kingdom for a long time. News of his death in late January surfaced earlier this week. He has been on Taiwan's most wanted list for many years in connection with a corruption and bribery case that stemmed from Taiwan's procurement in 1991 of six Lafayette-class frigates from a company in France. The inflated price tag of US$2.8 billion included kickbacks and bribes allegedly channeled through the French supplier Thomson-CSF, since renamed Thales S.A. In April 2014, Taiwan's Supreme Court sentenced former Navy captain Kuo Li-heng (???) to 15 years in prison for accepting US$17 million in kickbacks in connection with the frigate deal. The court also ordered Kuo and his co-defendant Wang to return an illicit US$340 million that had been frozen in foreign bank accounts. At the request of Taiwanese judicial authorities, Switzerland in 2001 froze about US$700 million in bank accounts belonging to Wang and Kuo. Wang appealed the Swiss decision to freeze his accounts, but his appeal was rejected. Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defense said France has already compensated Taiwan, and the matter has been settled between them. An international court of arbitration ruled in 2010 that the Thomson-CSF should pay Taiwan 630 million euros, for paying commissions in violation of the frigate contract. Because the French government guaranteed the contract, it had to pay 72.5 percent of the penalty, which amounted to 460 million euros, while Thales was required to pay the other 170 million euros. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-23 18:12 GMT+08:00