Ching Fu executive questioned by Kaohsiung prosecutors

Kaohsiung-Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co. (CFS, ????) Vice Chairman Chen Wei-chih (???) was called in for questioning by Kaohsiung prosecutors on Wednesday in relation to the company's leasing of Singda Harbor, one part of an ongoing fraudulent loan probe involving the company.

The move came after opposition Kuomintang lawmakers made public an audio recording at a news conference in Taipei on Tuesday, in which they said Chen can be heard discussing the leasing of Singda Harbor to Ching Fu with Kaohsiung Marine Bureau Director-General Wang Tuan-jen (???) and Fisheries Agency officials.

According to head prosecutor Ko Kuang-hui (???), Kaohsiung prosecutors seized the audio recording several months ago during their investigation into the fraudulent bank loan case involving Ching Fu.

The fraud allegedly occurred when CFS was trying to obtain a NT$20.5 billion syndicated loan from a group of nine domestic lenders led by First Commercial Bank, after winning a contract in 2014 to build six minesweepers for the Navy for NT$34.9 billion.

Prosecutors, who launched their investigation into the case in August, suspect the company of using bogus documents to falsify four capital increases that were required as part of the terms of the loan.

On Oct. 25, First Commercial Bank determined that CFS had defaulted on the syndicated loan, of which NT$15.4 billion had already been disbursed. CFS had failed to pay interest on the loan for two months, according to the bank.

"As part of our investigative efforts, we launched a second probe to determine whether Ching Fu illegally rigged the bid to win the right to use Singda Harbor," Ko said.

In the audio recording, dated Oct. 7, 2016, Chen also told Wang that he had been in touch with the Presidential Office which would push the Ministry of National Defense to pay NT$2.4 billion to CFS ahead of schedule to help it carry out the third phase of the Navy's minesweeper building program.

After questioning Chen, Ko sent reporters Line messages late on Wednesday indicating that Chen informed prosecutors the purpose of his visits to the Presidential Office was to show Kaohsiung officials that he had the support of the central government as a way of securing the right to use Singda Harbor for CFS.

In response, the Presidential Office initially denied Chen's claims. However, on Thursday James Huang (???), then director of the Southbound Policy Office, confirmed that he had met with Chen and his father at the Presidential Office in September last year but said they only discussed ship building projects with Indonesia.

CFS won the bid in January this year to lease Singda Harbor from the city's Fisheries Agency and signed a contract in May to use the harbor for a nine-year period.

Meanwhile, Wang, viewed as the key official in helping Ching Fu secure the right to lease the harbor, submitted his resignation on Tuesday which was approved by Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (??) that night.

Wang denied any wrongdoing.

Chen Chu urged the public to not lose sight of the main issue at hand, which she said is the bogus loan and minesweeper scandal.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel