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Kaohsiung mayor allegedly gave NT$4 million of TAPMC funds as travel money to cronies, wife

Kaohsiung Mayor Han allegedly skimmed off NT$4 million from TAPMC to give as travel awards to cronies, wife

Han (left).

Han (left). (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A report has surfaced today alleging that itinerant Kaohsiung Mayor and full-time presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) skimmed over NT$4 million (US$128,000) in surplus revenue from the Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Corporation (TAPMC) to give out as travel awards to his cronies during his tenure at the organization.

The Taipei District Prosecutor's Office is investigating Han for a breach of trust while serving as president of TAPMC after allegations of mismanagement of funds during his tenure there have surfaced. The Prosecutor's Office has dispatched officers to examine the minutes of the board of directors meetings and records of employees who traveled abroad to ascertain whether Han provided bonuses from surplus revenues and used public funds to take his wife on trips overseas, including Ishigaki Island, reported Mirror Media.

According to the report, while head of TAPMC, Han created a "Leisure Stress Relief Tour" scheme derived from surplus revenue not included in accounting records and without the approval of the board of directors. The report also alleges that Han personally selected the employees who received these travel abroad awards, which would represent a serious breach of trust.

At 10:30 a.m. on June 19, police cars from the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office were spotted in the parking lot of The First Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market on Minzu East Road. The officers were then seen entering the Finance Department of TAPMC's office on the fifth floor.

They were then seen photocopying reams of documents which were transferred to the squad car, and continued to do so well after noon. The next afternoon, officers were again spotted on the scene gathering still more information.

It was then revealed that the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office is now investigating Han for a breach of trust during his two-year tenure at TAPMC, according to the report. Last year, a scholar who specializes in corporate law gave testimony and provided legal analysis of the bonuses given by Han during his tenure at TAPMC.

The testimony was reportedly "extremely unfavorable to Han," according to a Mirror Media article. After Mirror Media started reporting on the potential breach of trust, the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office began to send officers to seize evidence from TAPMC.

According to a source familiar with the matter who spoke to Mirror Media, the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office sent a letter to TAPMC asking for the minutes and resolutions of its board of directors' meetings for six consecutive years, starting from 2012. It is also investigating the details of the organization's bid to send employees on trips abroad with public funds, as well as written information on each trip.

Due to the fact that the timeline of the information obtained coincides with the period in which Han served as president of TAPMC and because he is being accused of breach of trust by abusing the bonus system and using public funds to entertain friends and relatives abroad, TAPMC has already submitted all relevant records to the Prosecutor's Office.