Court reduces Candy Tang’s sentence to 1 year 10 months

The China Post news staff

The Taiwan High Court yesterday reduced the sentence of Candy Tang (唐雅君), former chairwoman of the now-defunct health club, the Alexander Group (亞力山大集團), to one year and ten months for defrauding her customers after the group was found still accepting membership payment the month before it filed for bankruptcy

The trial of the first instance had found Tang guilty, sentencing her to five years imprisonment. The defense appealed the verdict, taking the case to the high court. Tang’s younger sister Tang Hsin-ru (唐心如) faces one year and hour months imprisonment, down from the original four. They have been prohibited from leaving the country. Tang maintained that she did not embezzle any money and claimed to be set up. According to high court documents, she proposed to reimburse up to NT$30 million of the NT$320 million its 7,000 members lost in total. The high court determined that in the Tang sisters’ unwillingness to see their cash-strapped health club go bankrupt in the declining economy, they borrowed money through underground channels and accumulated an exorbitant amount of bad debt. Instead of alerting customers, the Alexander Group, cognizant of its financial difficulties and impending need to close down, was still advertising for new members. In June 1, 2007, the group was briefly bailed out by NT$200 million after making a plea for companies to acquire its branches. The court found, however, that Tang made the request to maintain her high society lifestyle, not as an attempt to revive the company.

In the months before it closed down, the Alexander Group lowered its membership fees and adopted a prepaid format to defraud customers out of NT$320 million.

The verdict rattled Tang, who speaking with reporters stressed that she “absolutely did not commit fraud.”

Tang said that the health club was the product of 26 years of hard work, during which it had successfully weathered economic ups and downs. She blamed bad investments with shareowner Lee Yung-hua (李永華), who she claimed defrauded her out of NT$95 million. Tang added that she was only guilty of bad company management, and if such was a crime, then many companies ought to be doing time.