Taipei Fubon criticized over unpaid debts

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Legislators and the Sports Affairs Council (SAC) under the Executive Yuan yesterday criticized Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank Co. for not paying back the National Treasury the NT$780 million plus it owed from the Taiwan Sports Lottery retained earnings, after the company threw an extravagant year-end party with 1,400 banquet tables last week.

According to the SAC numbers, Taipei Fubon Bank owed the National Treasury NT$780 million in 2008 and 2009 combined, and an additional NT$1.7 billion and counting in 2010 — although the bank put down a deposit, resulting in a current total debt of NT$2.4 billion from the past three years alone. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Shu-fen said yesterday that the SAC should force Taipei Fubon Bank to pay back every dollar relating to the Taiwan Sport Lottery Corp. (TSLC). If the bank can hold a 1,400-table affair, why does it keep delaying paying back the money owed to the National Treasury, Lin asked.

A Taipei Fubon Bank spokesperson came forth to say that the year-end party and the debt of retained earnings from the lottery were two separate issues and should not be grouped together. The bank said there was a disparity between the understanding of Fubon Bank and SAC regarding the 2008-2009 amount owed; the corporation is currently appealing the amount in the form of administrative litigation. The spokesperson added that the company has deposited NT$926 million and will respect the ruling of the court.

Since it launched in 2008, the Taiwan Sports Lottery has consistently shown poor performance in terms of revenue. The tickets are sold online while bets can be placed through a dial-in service, cell phones and digital cable television service.

In the contract with the government to run the lottery from 2008 to 2013, Taipei Fubon Bank was required to give the government NT$20.83 billion over six years, or an average of NT$3.47 billion a year.

The bank had expected sales revenues of NT$33.65 billion from 2008 to 2009 but actual sales reached only NT$19.1 billion — 56.8 percent of expected sales, falling short of the 80 percent goal. The SAC argued that a huge corporation like Fubon should be able to pay its debt, adding that the incoming money is needed to fund local sporting events. Regarding the “disparity” between the sum owed by the bank, the sports council said the contract was drawn up by Fubon Bank itself and it should abide by its own terms.