Friday, December 19, 2008

The Outrages of the Second Financial Reform Scandal are Intolerable

The Outrages of the Second Financial Reform Scandal are Intolerable
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 19, 2008

The Special Investigation Unit has appealed in the Chen corruption case. Prosecutors are expected to focus on the Second Financial Reform scandal and related scandals during its next wave of investigation. The Chen corruption case bill of indictment includes the names of many prominent businessmen. One or two of them are building contractors or real estate agents. Most are heads of financial institutions. They may have played different roles in the Chen family corruption case. Some of them delivered money to Chen's official residence. Some transported money to their banks. Others gave Chen kickbacks or contributions. Others helped the Chen family launder money overseas. Some delivered money. Some transported money. Some gave money. Some laundered money. The one thing they had in common was they were all part of the inner circle of the corrupt man on the throne. Had this not been the case, the Chen family would not have entrusted so many dark and shameful secrets to them. The Special Investigation Unit's bill of indictment noted that these businessmen will be the subjects of a separate investigation. Leave criminal responsibility aside for the moment. Everyone should be concerned about the civil, social, and moral responsibility these financial industry heads owe society as a whole.

Some businessmen told the Special Investigation Unit or the media that they gave money to the president under duress, because they were intimidated by the despotic power and authority of the presidency. Most people are unlikely to buy such arguments. According to reports, Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng implied that even Wang Yung-ching gave them money. But Wang Yung-ching, the "God of Enterprise," was honest and forthright. He clearly ignored such demands. Common sense suggests that those who willingly colluded with the president had ulterior motives. Some provided kickbacks in order to profit from illicit land deals. Some contributed money in order to acquire control of Fu Hwa Bank. Some contributed money right at the moment CITIC was attempting to swallow up Mega Bank. Some helped the Chen family launder money because Chen appointed them board members of holding companies.

In short, these businessmen eagerly abetted the president's corruption, and were handsomely rewarded for their efforts. They contributed a mere two or three hundred million in cash. In return they received trillions in state-run bank assets. No matter how one looks at it, "coercion" isn't the word that comes to mind. Prominent businessmen shuttled to and from the president's official residence. They helped Ah-Bian transport money. They cooked for his wife. They connected with Ma Yung-cheng. In exchange, they were able to play god in the financial sector, and act high and mighty. Their overweening ambition was clear for all to see. Take CITIC's acquistion of Mega Bank. If not for the Hong Huo case, over two trillion in Mega Bank assets would have been swallowed up. They contributed two or three hundred million in exchange for control over trillions. No wonder these businessman beat a path to the president's official residence.

We are also concerned about years of bribery, money-laundering, and the acquistion of of state-run banks. How can we restore justice? Some officials worry that pursuing these cases could negatively impact the economy. They cite these as excuses to shield their cronies in the business world. Any official who has the chutzpah to offer such transparently phony justifications for not investigating are underestimating the public on Taiwan and its sense of justice. In 1991, a number of liberal academics launched a campaign against the KMT's party assets. They said that 40 years ago the party's acquisition of assets and expansion of powers was unjust. In terms of scale, the KMT's party assets pale before the state-run bank assets swallowed up by the DPP's Second Financial Reform. In terms of timing, the KMT's party assets were acquired over a period of 40 years. The Second Financial Reform scandal erupted only four or five years ago. In terms of consequences, the KMT underestimated public disatisfaction over its tardy disposition of party assets. Public anger accumulated, and contributed to the first change in ruling parties. The body is not yet cold from the DPP's Second Financial Reform scandal. Yet trillions of dollars in state-run bank assets make the KMT's party assets pale in comparison. Any official who invokes "economic stability" as a pretext to overlook this injustice, is fooling only himself.

Finally, to ensure justice within the financial industry is much easier than disposing of party assets. The public has the right to review and correct the abuses committed by financial industry heads. It has the right to monitor the financial industry through such agencies as the Financial Supervisory Commission. Chapters III and IV of the Financial Holding Law detail the authority to revoke, punish, manage, and relieve officials of the financial industry. As far as the public is concerned, a banker who bribes officials and helps the Chen family launder money is unquestionably an obstacle to the normal conduct of business, hence unfit for duty, regardless of whether or not he bears any criminal responsibility. The legal precedent set by Article 54 also applies. The public has the right to review the Special Investigation Unit's pursuit of criminals, whether they are being sentenced too lightly or too heavily. The public cannot tolerate the bribery of officials in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars. Prosecutors are investigating the Chen family. That is the least society expects from them. The ownership of domestic banks and state assets has illegally fallen into the hands of financial consortiums. This is also an injustice that must be corrected.

中國時報  2008.12.19






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