How Chen Shui-bian Helped the Yuanta Ma Family Acquire KMT Party Assets
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 29, 2009
The Special Investigation Unit has handed down indictments in the Chen family's "Second Financial Reform Program" scandal. This wave of prosecutions is noteworthy in two respects. First, Chen Shui-bian waved the banner of reform. He demanded that the KMT divest itself of its party assets. But at the same time he covered up the Yuanta Ma family's acquisition of KMT party assets. Secondly, Chen Shui-bian began his crusade against corruption during his first term as president. The famous expression, "power corrupts," must be amended. As the Chen Shui-bian corruption case shows, "power corrupts immediately."
Toward the end of 2003, Chen Shui-bian was running for re-election. Chen Shui-bian and the DPP targeted KMT party assets. The Executive Yuan set up an "ad hoc group for the return of illicit party assets [to the government]." They used the power of the executive to apply pressure on the Kuomintang. The KMT, in an attempt to escape from its political predicament, secretly attempted to divest itself of its party assets. The Yuanta Ma family was interested in acquiring China Investments. China Investments held the rights to Fuhua Holdings. Its acquisition would allow the Yuanta Ma family to expand its operations. Party assets had become the target of public criticism. The transaction was extremely complex. And yet Chen Shui-bian was able to pull if off.
The Yuanta Ma family first contacted Chen Hui-Yu, a Chen Shui-bian relative and trusted go-between. During Chen's re-election campaign, the Yuanta Ma family gave 20 million NT in "campaign contributions," just to test the waters. Once Chen Shui-bian was "reelected," the Yuanta Ma family paid a visit to Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng. The pretext was to congratulate them for their election victory. They used the occasion to ask whether they could acquire China Investments. At the time, Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng replied that acquiring a controlling interest in China Investments on the open market was perfectly okay. But to buy it directly would be considered "an illegal party assets transaction." This was hardly what the Yuanta Ma family hoped to hear. If the Yuanta Ma family attempted to acquire a controlling interest of China Investments on the open market, the price of shares would skyrocket. The Yuanta Ma family's capital costs would increase substantially. Therefore the Yuanta Ma family attempted to bribe Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng. It would acquire China Investments directly, and hope to pick it up for a bargain.
The Yuanta Ma family strategy involved two approaches. On the one hand, it would use DPP legislators. It would secretly install Wu Jie, an "industrial spy." He would run for the board of directors of Fuhua Holdings, demanding that the KMT divest itself of its party assets. Wu Jie would then be firmly in control of divestiture proceedings for China Investments. Angelo Koo of Development Holdings also hoped to acquire China Investments. Koo was in secret talks with the KMT, and appeared to have reached an accord. But in the end he failed, because Wu Jie leaked information to the Yuanta Ma family. The Yuanta Ma family immediately used Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's authority to intervene. Wu Jie was of course rewarded once the deal was struck. By the time the scandal was exposed, he had already fled overseas.
The Yuanta Ma family was aware of the progress of secret talks between Development Holding's Angelo Koo and the KMT. It knew if it did not act immediately, Development Holdings would snatch China Holdings from under its nose. Therefore it dispatched Tu Li-ping to the president's official residence, and asked Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng for their support. Wu Shu-chen then revealed her asking price. Their support was available, for 200 million NT. By this time it was clear that Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's rhetoric about how "acquiring a controlling interest on the open market was perfectly okay" was nothing more than a smokescreen. What Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng really wanted was money. Whoever gave them money, could buy any damned party assets they cared to. The crusade against KMT party assets was nothing more than election rhetoric. The DPP and the public were kept in the dark.
On the morning of November 30, 2004, the Yuanta Ma family delivered 200 million NT in cash to the president's official residence. Wu Shu-chen immediately "sealed the deal." She personally telephoned Angelo Koo. She said she had evidence Angelo Koo was dealing with the Kuomintang, that he was helping the KMT, and that therefore she would punish him. She then hung up. But Wu Shu-chen's "lightning bolt" failed to deter Development Holdings. Chen Shui-bian told Ma Yung-cheng to threaten the Koo family. He told him to tell the Koo family that their private attempts to acquire KMT party assets were illegal, and that if they didn't give up their attempt to acquire China Holdings, then even Development Holdings would encounter problems. At this point, the Koo family had no choice but to back down. Ah-Cheng and Ah-Bian had successfully helped the Yuanta Ma family privately acquire KMT party assets by means of illegal transactions.
This is the true face of Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng helping the Yuanta Ma family acquire China Holdings. This is what prosecutors have now exposed. Chen's so-called crusade against illicit KMT party assets was nothing but pretexts for the First Family to rake in money. Is this not shameful? Is this not despicable? Is this not frightening?
Did Chen Shui-bian's corruption become as flagrant as it did only after his first term expired and he began campaigning for a second term? The answer is no. Chen Shui-bian was first elected president in 2000. Just one year after taking office, he began extorting money from Tsai Hong-tu of Cathay Financial Holdings. Tsai Hong-tu and Fubon Financial Holdings were attempting to acquire the rights to the United World Chinese Commercial Bank. That year Tsai Hong-tu paid Chen Shui-bian 100 million NT. For the next three years he paid the same amount. All in all he paid Chen 400 million in bribes. He squeezed out the once dominant Fubon Financial Holdings Corporation, and gained control of the United World Chinese Commercial Bank.
When we say "power corrupts" we usually mean that once people have been in power a while and begin to understand how to abuse their power, they are no longer able to resist its temptation. In other words, "Power corrupts gradually." But Chen Shui-bian was different. Chen Shui-bian was a case of "Power corrupts immediately." No sooner had Chen Shui-bian assumed office than he began engaging in wholesale corruption. Chen Shui-bian was different from most people. He was already on this path, long before he became president.
2009.12.29 03:47 am