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Tire firm corruption suspects remanded

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office (TDPO, 台灣台北地方法院檢察署) yesterday officially remanded the suspect in the Criminal Investigation Bureau's (CIB) ongoing Nankang Rubber Tire Corp. (南港輪胎公司) corruption case.

Following the tire company reporting suspicions that their purchasing manager Chen Chi-ching (陳啟清) had been seeking kickbacks from suppliers, the CIB raided Chen's home and office on July 16.

Prosecutors spent hours yesterday counting the boxes of cash found in Chen's home. They came up with a final tally of NT$285.3 million at 9 p.m. The money was deposited to a TDPO special account at the Bank of Taiwan soon after.

The report was allegedly made by current company Chairman Chiang Ching-hsing (江慶興), who is a former police officer. Chiang was also classmates with former National Police Agency Director General and incumbent New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) while attending the Taiwan Police College (臺灣警察專科學校). After taking over as chair, Chiang began to suspect questionable errors in the company's books in May and reportedly reached out to contacts to conduct a secret investigation with the CIB against Chen.

Chen had reportedly begun to realize that he was under investigation after Chiang began to limit his work and authority, prompting the suspect and his wife to retrieve large amounts of money in case of emergency.

Chen and his wife Chen Yueh-chiao (陳月蕉) were apprehended by the CIB on July 16 and transported for questioning to the TDPO, where Chen Chi-ching denied all accusations of corruption.

Chen Chi-ching was reported to have admitted to police that the money recovered from his apartment could amount to over NT$200 million. However, he said, the money was earned in a land deal and not from any kickbacks. Chen's wife was also quoted to have said that she never questioned her husband's finances and hence has no ideas concerning any of the allegations.

Authorities retrieved large quantities of cash from Chen's apartment in Hsinchu, certificates of deposits, proof of a U.S. currency account and proof of the existence of an offshore company.

From the evidence and interrogations, authorities were able to deduce that in the 17 years Chen had the position as purchasing manager, the suspect had requested that certain suppliers give him US$7 in kickbacks for every ton of natural rubber. Chen had allegedly raised his price to US$40 per ton, with around 10 different companies paying him so that they could continue business with Nankang Rubber Tires.

Authorities reportedly deduced that the suspect might have accumulated around NT$1.5 billion through kickbacks. The money had been laundered through an offshore company in his wife's name as well as 60 different local and American bank accounts that belonged to his family members.

During the police raid at his Hsinchu apartment, stacks of new and old NT$2,000 and NT$1,000 bills were discovered underneath Chen's bed. 30 cardboard boxes and three suitcases full of cash were also retrieved from Chen's closets.

According to the couple's neighbors, it is unbelievable that such a crime was committed. Allegedly, the couple resides in an old apartment with no air conditioning while Chen Chi-ching drove an old car and used an old briefcase. Chen's modest look and his family background was what had apparently prompted the company to promote him to purchasing manager after years of service.

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