Cabinet to form group to handle transfer of seized KMT firms

The Cabinet is to form a cross-ministerial task force this week to handle the transfer of two investment companies owned by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), which were designated last week by a Cabinet agency as “ill-gotten assets,” Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said on Monday.

Transferring ownership of Central Investment Co. (中投) and Hsinyutai Co. (欣裕台) to the state is a complicated process as the two companies have a great number of subsidiaries and affiliated firms, Hsu said.

The process involves the transfer of assets from the companies involved, including methods of securing the transfer, changes in personnel, disposition of assets seized, the nomination of new responsible persons and executives at the companies, Hsu added.

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) has appointed two ministers without portfolio to the task force which will also include officials from the Ministries of Finance, Labor, Economic Affairs, Justice and the Interior, as well as the National Development Council, Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics and the Directorate General of Personnel Administration, Hsu said, declining to reveal the names of the two ministers.

“The group could be formed as early as the end of this week,” the spokesman said.

The Cabinet’s Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee last week designated the two KMT companies “ill-gotten assets” that should be transferred to the state. The companies have a combined value of NT$15.6 billion (US$494.17 million).

KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said the party will take legal action against the seizure of the two companies.

Hung blasted the new committee for “its concentration of administrative, legislative and judicial powers” and described the move to have Central Investment Co. and Hsinyutai Co. transferred to the state as dictatorial, a “violation of the law and the Constitution.”

If the companies are nationalized, the KMT will lose nearly all its assets, as most of its property, including the party headquarters, offices, local chapters and many other KMT-run enterprises are under the name of Central Investment.

The committee was set up by the new Cabinet in August based on the Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and Their Affiliated Organizations, which was enacted by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-dominated Legislature in July.

The KMT lost the presidential and legislative elections to the DPP in January, with the DPP gaining a legislative majority for the first time ever.

According to the statute, the committee is authorized to investigate, retroactively confiscate and return or restore to the rightful owners all assets obtained by the KMT and its affiliated organizations since August 15, 1945, when Japan handed over the assets under its control in Taiwan to the Republic of China, at which time the KMT was the ruling party.

The statute assumes that all KMT assets, except for membership fees, political donations, government subsidies for its candidates running for public office and interest generated from these funds are “ill-gotten” and must be transferred to the state or returned to their rightful owners.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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