Prosecutors seek 24-year jail term for property tycoon

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Chao Teng-hsiung, right, founder of the Farglory Group, reports to police authorities on Nov. 1, 2017. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday sought a sentence of 24 years in prison for Chao on charges that include bribery and breach of trust. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) – The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday sought a sentence of 24 years in prison for Farglory Group (遠雄集團) founder Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄) on charges that include bribery and breach of trust.

The Taipei District Court granted prosecutors’ requests on July 1 to detain Chao, who controls Farglory Land Development Co. and its main affiliated companies, and two others on suspicion of bribery and embezzlement involving several public construction projects. The other two were New Taipei City Councilor Chou Sheng-kao (周勝考) and Hung Chia-hung (洪嘉宏), chief secretary of the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA).

After a four-month investigation, prosecutors on Tuesday indicted 31 people involved in the cases, including Chao, Chou and Lee Sush-der (李述德), former head of Taipei’s Department of Finance.

Chao has been indicted by prosecutors for embezzling funds from Farglory Life Insurance Co (遠雄人壽) in 2007 and 2008.

Prosecutors requested a sentence of 10 years for Chao for falsifying financial reports and 14 years for bribery, including eight years for paying kickbacks to Chou and other New Taipei City officials in 2013 to facilitate the rezoning of a former coal mine in Tucheng District (土城) and a factory in Xinzhuang District (新莊).

Meanwhile, prosecutors are seeking a 10-year jail term for Lee on charges of his alleged violations of the law in the project to build the Taipei Dome.

Lee has been indicted for financially benefiting Farglory Land Development Co., the main contractor for the Taipei Dome project. He was head of the city’s finance department from 1998-2006.

Prosecutors have also indicted Chou, seeking a 10-year jail term for allegedly taking and offering bribes relating to the projects in Tucheng and Xinzhuang.

Hung has been indicted on suspicion of taking a NT$120 million bribe from Farglory Land Development Co. to secure bids on public construction projects.

However, because Hung has since returned NT$35.5 million in illegal gains, prosecutors have asked the court to treat him with leniency.

After the indictment, the court will determine whether Chao, Chou and Hung, who have been detained since July 1, will remain in detention or be released on bail.

Meanwhile, a lack of evidence meant that prosecutors decided not to include former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who served as Taipei mayor from 1998-2006, as part of the indictment.

A further 13 people involved in these cases have received deferred prosecutions.

By Hsiao Po-wen, Wang Yang-yu and Evelyn Kao