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US forfeits properties of former Taiwanese prez

By Lalit K Jha
November 15, 2012 13:42 IST
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The United States has forfeited properties worth US$ 2.1 million which were allegedly purchased with the proceeds of bribes paid to the family of former Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-bian.

This includes a Manhattan condominium and a Virginia residence -- with a combined value of approximately US$ 2.1 million, the department of justice said.

Both properties were previously owned by the former first family of Taiwan through a British Virgin Islands shell company.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has taken possession of the Virginia property.

The title of the Manhattan condominium has been vested through court order to the government.

According to the civil forfeiture complaints filed in this case during former President Chen's administration, Yuanta Securities Co Ltd allegedly paid a bribe of 200 million New Taiwan dollars (equivalent to approximately US$ 6 million USD) to former first lady Sue-Jen Wu in 2004 to ensure that the Taiwan government would not oppose Yuanta's bid to acquire a financial holding company.

The former first family allegedly used Hong Kong and Swiss bank accounts, British Virgin Island companies and a St Kitts and Nevis trust to purchase the two properties, the Department of Justice said.

One of the shell companies, Avallo Limited, which held title to both properties through US domestic companies, settled both forfeiture actions under terms that provide for the sale of the property and forfeiture to the US government of approximately 85 per cent of the net proceeds from the sale of both properties.

"The Kleptocracy Initiative was established to prevent corrupt leaders from using the United States as a safe haven for their ill-gotten gains," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.

"The former president of Taiwan's family allegedly accepted millions in bribes in exchange for official action favouring Yuanta Securities, and we have now taken possession of two valuable properties purchased with their alleged spoils. We are committed to using every tool available to root out foreign official corruption," he said.

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Lalit K Jha
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