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Taiwan: Former Mega Chief Cheng Named Defendant for Money Laundering
Publicado el Oct. 20th 2008

Former Mega Financial Holding Co. Chairman Cheng Shen-chih was named defendant after three other companies were searched yesterday as part of a snowballing case involving alleged money-laundering by former President Chen Shui-bian and his family. Chen Yun-nan, director of the Special Investigation Division under the Supreme Prosecutors Office, said prosecutors decided to change Cheng's status from a witness to a potential defendant after discovering while questioning him earlier in the day that he had shady financial dealings with other suspects in the money laundering case. Cheng was questioned by prosecutors last night and his status changed from witness to defendant, the official said. Also Friday, prosecutors investigating the high-profile money laundering case raided offices of three of Taiwan's largest financial holding groups in search of evidence of their involvement in the case. Chinatrust Financial Holding Co., China Development Financial Holding Co. and Yuanta Financial Holding Co. Under Taiwan law, being named a defendant is one step before being formally indicted. According to Chen Yun-nan, prosecutors discovered that subsidiaries of the three business groups -- Mega Holdings,Chinatrust Financial Holding Co. and China Development Financial Holding Corp. -- had suspicious money dealings with bank accounts held by suspects in the money laundering case. ``The source of some funds in these three financial companies, related companies, and accounts is unclear,'' Chen said. The investigations are part of prosecutors' examination of money laundering, he said. Chen Yun-nan said all relevant personnel were very cooperative in the course of operations. In addition to offices, residences of certain major shareholders of the three financial groups were also searched. To avoid affecting the bearish local bourse, prosecutors did not start the massive search until after the market closed. The raid was still going on as of press time. The now-defendant Cheng declined to answer reporters' questions, television footage showed, while Chinatrust Chairman Jeffrey Koo denied to reporters that he gave Chen Shui-bian cash and said he ``doesn't know what's happening.'' Chinatrust Chief Financial Officer Hsu Miao-ching and China Development spokeswoman Debbie Tung confirmed the raids yesterday and said they were not aware of the reason for the search. Yuanta said in an exchange filing last night it will cooperate with the investigation. Chen Shui-bian, who stepped down as Taiwan's president May 20 at the end of his second term, is being investigated for money-laundering and embezzlement during his 8 years in office. A travel ban on Chen and his brother-in-law Wu Ching-mao was issued Aug. 16.
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