Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jeffrey Koo Jr. returns to testify against Chen

My Lord, may I also remind my learned friend that his witness, by her own admission, has already violated so many oaths that I am surprised the Testament did not LEAP FROM HER HAND when she was sworn here today! I doubt if anything is to be gained by questioning you any further! That will be all, Frau Helm!

There was an explosion of things in the media today on the behavior of the Special Investigation Panel (SIP), Chen Shui-bian, and the arrival of fugitive Jeffrey Koo from Japan to testify that he gave an NT $400 million sweetener to Chen Shui-bian's wife Wu Shu-jen to make a land purchase go....let's begin with the Taipei Times report:

Former Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) vice chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) returned to Taiwan yesterday after being on the run for almost two years. He was immediately handcuffed and escorted to the Supreme Prosecutor Office’s Special Investigation Panel (SIP) for questioning. All investigations involving Koo, who returned to Taiwan from Japan on his private plane around 9:45am, will now be handled by the SIP, a chief investigator said.

SIP spokesman Chen Yun-nan (陳雲南) said that after talking to State Public Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明), it was decided that the probes, including one into Koo’s suspected role in a questionable financial deal and another into his possible role in alleged corruption involving the former first family, would be handled by the SIP.

Koo has been on the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office wanted list since December 2006 after twice failing to appear to answer questions regarding his role in Chinatrust Financial’s investment in Mega Financial Holding Co (兆豐金控) through its Hong Kong branch.

What's the issue? The article continues further down:

Prosecutors were also anxious to talk to Koo about the sale of a piece of land in Taoyuan County owned by a development company controlled by Koo and his family, through which former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), is alleged to have received NT$400 million (US$12 million) in kickbacks.

Jeffrey Koo Jr’s alleged involvement in the deal came to light on Nov. 14, when Taiwan Cement Corp (台泥) chairman Leslie Koo (辜成允), his uncle, told prosecutors that his nephew had introduced him to the former first lady’s friend Tsai Ming-cher (蔡明哲), who instructed Leslie Koo on where to wire a NT$400 million “commission” on the land purchase.

So obvious is the appearance of a deal between prosecutors and Koo that the government was forced to deny that it had cut a deal to get Jeff Koo Jr. to return after being on the run in Japan and the US for two years. Since KMTers rarely return to face prosecution (whereas President Chen stuck around to face prosecution by a hostile administration) it is hard for many to believe that arrangements have not been made.

Some history: the Koos are an old family with a long history of "collaboration" with the authorities to advance the familial interests. Originally from Lukang (the old homestead is now the Folk Museum there), the patriarch of the family, Ku (Koo) Hsien-jung, opened the doors to the incoming Japanese in 1895 and helped them pacify the northern part of the island. He was rewarded with gifts of land and made investments across many industries, sitting on the boards of most of the island's corporations in the prewar period. Politically connected and powerful, he was the first Taiwanese to sit in the Japanese House of Peers. At the end of the Japanese period his companies were forcibly merged into larger Japanese firms and he was left with his landholdings and investments. In the postwar period the landholdings were forcibly converted under the land reform into shares of Taiwan Cement, and his son, the famous Koo Chen-fu, became head of the corporation, eventually making the company one of the most important on the island, gaining a seat on the Central Standing Committee of the KMT and becoming one of the most powerful men in Taiwan.

In other words, Jeffrey Koo Jr is a junior member of one of the most powerful families on the island with intimate connections to the KMT. Readers will have to make their own judgments about whether such a person came back out of the goodness of his heart to admit to and then testify to a crime which just by coincidence happens to bear on the guilt of the former President whom the current ruling party appears to be obsessed with destroying.

The Taipei Times had some good commentary today on the prosecutions. Local magazine editor Chin Heng-wei observed:

From Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) and Su to Chen Shui-bian, a climate of political character assassination is brewing. Is every prosecutor in Taiwan going to sink into this mire?

Prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁) of the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office, for one, has seen more than he can take. Speaking at a symposium on prosecution reform, Chen said that the prosecutorial system should avoid clustering the accused into particular groups.

Judge Lu Tai-lang (呂太郎), however, said: “All the people arrested by the prosecutors share the same party affiliation.”

No wonder the SIP has become known as the “Chen Shui-bian Investigation Panel.” Frighteningly and lamentably, the prosecutors handling these cases have not just surrendered to Ma and his clique, but have become his willing pawns.

In May this year, speaking on the 10th anniversary of the Prosecutors’ Reform Association, prosecutor Yang Ta-chih (楊大智) said: “In the decade that has passed since the founding of the Prosecutors’ Reform Association, we started with the KMT in power, followed by eight years of Democratic Progressive Party government, and now we have the KMT in power again. Ten years ago political interference in the judicial process was blatant. Now the big problem is the way some prosecutors put themselves at the beck and call of politicians.”
President Chen's lawyer today was back trying to get the detention ended on the grounds that the reasons for it no longer apply. The government, bending over backwards as always to avoid the appearance of political persecution, is investigating Chen's lawyer, ostensibly for reading a poem from Chen to his wife aloud to the media without obtaining permission from the court.

UPDATE: The media is reporting that despite Koo being a proven flight risk (having fled once before), he was given no travel ban, and set free on bail (the 4th highest in Taiwan history). As opposed to Chen Shui-bian, who was detained without any charges being filed, and the other DPP detainees.


Taiwan Echo said...

After Koo went back to Taiwan, he was interrogated by the attorneys, and then released, without any restriction of living area, and without any restriction of going abroad.

He is a criminal with records of fleeing, yet he is allowed to go abroad freely.

Chen Shui-Bian, Su Chih-fen, Chen Ming-wen .... all those pro-green politicians, none of them has fleeing record. In fact according to the history, only pro-KMT politicians and convicted criminals flee from justice.

Yet, no matter. As long as you are not on the KMT side, you are "free to be charged and detained," even there's no evidence at all to prove you commit any crime.

This is what Taiwanese voted for.

Dad said...

I acn only repeat what Taiwan Echo has said.

On a small side note. The SIP changed its name to the SID some time ago. I know, I know, the Taipei Times and several other media outlets don't seem to know about but still ....