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Taiwan also plagued by 'too big to fail' notion

Kao Cheng-li (高振利), the beleaguered chairman of Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Co. (大統長基食品), on Monday was sentenced to 16 years in prison and hit with stiff fines of NT$1.85 billion on charges of fraud and violations of the Act Governing Food Sanitation.

Kao is now being held on the suspicion that he may attempt to flee the country, with his assets under close scrutiny to prevent him from manipulating his accounts in order to evade a court-ordered seizure.

It is rather unfortunate for Kao that his modest enterprise in the cooking-oil sector did not meet the requirements to be granted the status of “too big to fail,” and thus was denied the special treatment extended to other chairmen of unscrupulous companies such as Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE, 日月光), which has yearly revenues of NT$200 billion.

In contrast to the fate of Kao, ASE Chairman Jason Chang (張虔生) has remained relatively unscathed after recent revelations of his company's illegal dumping of untreated toxic wastewater via unregistered and concealed pipes.

Following reports of ASE's illegal dumping, numerous allies of Chang emerged to speak on his behalf, among them Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝), who stated that the company should not be blasted into the “18th level of hell” for an “oversight,” while at the same holding off a pan-blue lawmaker's appeal to compel ASE to remit past tax incentives of around NT$3 billion on the grounds that there was no legal basis for the order.

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