Committee unfreezes KMT’s bank account for layoff plan

The Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee agreed on Friday to lift a freeze on a bank account and nine checks held by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), to facilitate a massive layoff plan by the party.

Facing financial difficulty, the KMT recently unveiled a plan to lay off 738 employees and asked the committee to allow it to sell its shares in Central Investment Corp. and Hsinyutai Co., as well as real estate held by Central Investment Corp., to cover an estimated NT$1.5 billion in severance pay and retirement payments for the laid-off workers.

Wellington Koo (顧立雄), chairman of the committee, said the application was rejected because the two companies were obtained by the KMT through improper means, which means that their shares must be transferred to the state.

Considering the KMT’s financial need to carry out the layoff plan, however, the committee agreed to allow the party to withdraw NT$350 million from its Bank SinoPac account and use nine checks totaling NT$468 million that had previously been frozen by the committee, Koo said.

The money, combined with other income, will add up to NT$1.25 billion, which will be enough to cover the layoff costs after an account set aside for retirement payments is taken into consideration, he said.

If the money is not enough, the KMT will have to try to raise funds via legal means, he added.

Also Friday, the committee approved an application by the KMT to withdraw NT$7.9 million from Bank SinoPac to pay land tax and labor and health insurance premiums for its staff.

The committee was set up by the Cabinet in August based on the Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and Their Affiliated Organizations.

According to the law, the committee’s job is to investigate, retroactively confiscate and return or restore to the rightful owners all assets obtained by the KMT and its affiliated organizations since Aug. 15, 1945 — when Japan handed over its assets in Taiwan to the then ruling party of the Republic of China.

The law assumes that all KMT assets — except for the party’s membership fees, political donations, government subsidies for KMT 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.

The committee ruled on Sept. 20 to freeze the KMT’s account at Bank SinoPac and the nine checks, after discovering that the KMT had withdrawn a total of NT$520 million from the account in the form of 10 checks Aug. 11, one day after the Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and Their Affiliated Organizations came into force.

One of the checks was cashed Aug. 30.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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