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ASE vice president released on bail

Prosecutors in Kaohsiung yesterday released a vice president of Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE, 日月光) on bail after questioning him amid reports indicating that the firm's chairman would also be summoned in the wake of a snowballing pollution scandal.

Prosecutors released Lin Hsien-tang (林顯堂), ASE's executive vice president, on NT$5 million bond after six hours of questioning. Lin arrived at the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office around noon, about 11 hours after Su Ping-shuo (蘇炳碩), head of ASE's K7 plant in the southern city, had been taken into custody.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs issued a press release stating that if ASE's wastewater scandal is proved to be a severe violation against the regulations after investigations by Kaohsiung City's Environmental Protection Bureau, the ministry will limit any investment and subsidy filing by the company in the future.

Earlier reports suggested that ASE Chairman Jason Chang (張虔生) would also be served a summons by the prosecutors, as investigators are looking to determine the liability of the company management.

When asked if Su was taken into custody after questioning, and manager Yen Chun-ming (顏俊明) was released on bail of NT$1 million, ASE said that the company respects the justice system and has no comments on the investigation progress, since it is still ongoing.

Environmental inspectors are also stationed at the K7 plant to monitor its operations around the clock.

K7 was first accused on Dec. 9 of illegally discharging toxic wastewater into the nearby Hou-chin River, and environmental authorities in Kaohsiung have given ASE until Dec. 19 to explain the allegations or face a shutdown of the plant. ASE has yet to give an official explanation.

Su Ping-shuo, head of the K7 factory, was taken into custody after overnight questioning on Friday night for his alleged involvement in ASE's recent scandal involving the use of concealed and unregistered pipes to dump wastewater containing strong acids and heavy metals into the Hou-chin River from the company's K7 factory.

Further investigations already found violations by another two ASE plants — K5 and K11 — in the same area where K7 is located, and the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has also ordered an inspection of all the firm's facilities in Taiwan.

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Environmental inspectors prepare to monitor operations at the K7 plant, yesterday. They will be there around the clock for the next five days.(CNA)

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