Taiwan seeks Philippine help to extradite fugitive

Taipei-Taiwan has asked authorities in the Philippines to arrest and extradite Chen Yu-hao (???), one of Taiwan's most-wanted fugitives, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (???) said on Wednesday.

The ministry and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines have made several requests to the Philippine authorities to extradite Chen, former chairman of conglomerate Tuntex Group, having learned that the Taiwanese fugitive is involved in a major investment project in the Southeast Asian country, Wang told the press.

Wang said that Taipei is urging Manila to arrest and extradite Chen after learning that he is planning to invest US$369 billion in the Philippines as part of China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which seeks to build a modern Silk Road linking Asia, Africa and Europe.

Chen acquired Chinese citizenship in 2013 which enables him to travel to the Philippines freely. In response, his Republic of China citizenship was revoked.

"Taiwan has made repeated requests to the Philippines for help in arresting Chen and send him back to Taiwan. These demonstrate Taiwan's determination to bring the fugitive to justice," Wang said.

Wang also warned the Philippines about risks related to future investments by Chen as he is one of the top economic criminals to flee Taiwan.

Despite the warning, sources from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), a government-owned agency, said that the country continues to welcome Chen's investment.

Chen, a U.S. passport holder, fled Taiwan after dissolving Tuntex Group in 2001, when Taiwanese authorities launched a probe into allegations he embezzled NT$70 billion (US$2.31 billion).

In addition to the alleged embezzlement and breach of trust, Chen also owes NT$450 million in personal income tax in Taiwan.

As a U.S citizen, Chen was able to travel freely between the United States and China. In 2002, he set up a petrochemical plant in Xiamen with paid-in capital of 3.34 billion Chinese yuan (US$502 million).

Chen was indicted in 2003 and listed as one of the 10 most wanted fugitives in Taiwan. Since acquiring Chinese citizenship he has developed close ties with Chinese officials and the business sector in that country.

Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang (???) said the ministry has asked China to send Chen back to Taiwan in accordance with cross-strait agreements on criminal crackdowns and mutual assistance, adding that efforts will continue to secure his extradition from the Philippines.

In January 2016, the Taiwan government confiscated 24 plots of land in Taipei owned by Chen after they once again attracted no interest at an auction held by the Ministry of Justice. Their sale is intended to raise money to pay Chen's outstanding tax bill.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel