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DOJ grabs U.S. property of former Taiwan ruler

The former President of Taiwan, Shui-Bian Chen (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)A Manhattan condo and a house in Virginia together worth $2.1 million were confiscated this week from the former president of Taiwan.

The DOJ said the properties were purchased with the proceeds of alleged bribes paid to the family of the former President of Taiwan, Shui-Bian Chen.

The forfeiture was part of the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.  

The FCPA reaches bribe payers but not bribe takers. So the government uses other laws, including money laundering and civil asset forfeitures.

‘On Oct. 23, 2012,’ the DOJ said, ‘U.S. District Judge Norman Moon of the Western District of Virginia entered a final forfeiture judgment against a residence in Keswick, Va., and On Oct. 24, 2012, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in the Southern District of New York entered a final forfeiture judgment against a condominium in Manhattan. Both properties were previously owned by the former first family of Taiwan through a British Virgin Islands shell company.’

The DOJ’s civil forfeiture complaints alleged that Yuanta Securities Co. Ltd. paid a bribe of $6 million to former first lady Sue-Jen Wu in 2004. The bribe was intended to clear the way with the Taiwan government for Yuanta’s acquisition of another financial services company.

The DOJ said the former first family used Hong Kong and Swiss bank accounts, British Virgin Island companies, and a St. Kitts and Nevis trust to buy the two properties.

Assistant AG Lanny Breuer said: ‘The former president of Taiwan’s family allegedly accepted millions in bribes in exchange for official action favoring Yuanta Securities, and we have now taken possession of two valuable properties purchased with their alleged spoils. We are committed to using every tool available to root out foreign official corruption.’

The asset recovery program is run by the DOJ from Miami. It said the case was investigated by ICE- HSI’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group, the HSI Miami Asset Identification and Removal Group, and the HSI Attaché Hong Kong, with assistance from the Taiwan Ministry of Justice, Special Investigations Division.

The DOJ’s release is here.

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