Taiwan ex-President Ma Ying-jeou likely takes lead role in a controversial land deal

A batch of audio files are believed to give more details on the land deal too and might get Ma into hot water


The photo shows former President Ma Ying-jeou

(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is likely to have played a decisive role in a controversial land deal in which a large parcel of land in Taipei City originally owned by the Kuomintang was traded far below market price when Ma chaired the party, according to a media report on Wednesday.

Following a recent indictment and a prison sentence issued last May for leaking classified information from a judicial investigation, Ma is in hot water for involvement in two legal cases. They include a sale of land for the National Development Institute and the takeover of a Taipei City-owned bank by the Fubon Financial Holding while Ma served as mayor of the capital.

On Wednesday, a man familiar with the matter was quoted by Mirror Media as saying that up to 300 compact disks with numerous voice recording files seized in 2017 by prosecutors from a house of an employee from the Central Investment Co. for Ma's alleged involvement in the sale of KMT-owned media companies, would shed light on the land deal too. The disks are believed to contain evidence and audio files to prove Ma's lead role in the deal that probably cost the party a loss of NT$2 billion (US$65 million).

The person familiar with the matter told the media that the prosecutors office began questioning a few key persons in connection with the case this year and is going to make explosive progress soon.

Ma is said to have given orders orally in person to Central Investment Co. former general manager Steve Wong (汪海清), who is in charge of several liquidations of the KMT assets. Wong reportedly had been recording conversations with Ma in secret as a precautionary measure to pardon his way out of the legal troubles.

Mirror Media reported that the sales of media companies and the land shared some similarities, including only one bidder throughout the deals and being traded in favor of the bidders. In the land deal's case, Yuanli Construction Co. was the only bidder and acquired the land for NT$265,000/ping, far below the then market value of NT$400,000/ping, causing a difference of nearly NT$2 billion between the selling and market prices.

Ma was invited to attend a Central Standing Committee meeting convened by the KMT Wednesday afternoon to explain his role in the sales of the media companies - China Television, Central Motion Pictures Corp., and the Broadcasting Corp. of China. Ma is said to have claimed his innocence during the meeting and accused Tsai Ing-wen government's political interference in judicial process.