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Prosecutors issue arrest warrant for Jeffrey Koo Jr.
[November 23, 2006]

Prosecutors issue arrest warrant for Jeffrey Koo Jr.

(China Post Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) The Taipei District Prosecutor's Office yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of Chinatrust Financial Holding Co. vice chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr. for his failure to appear at questioning session on his alleged role in an illegal acquisition of stakes in Mega Financial Holding Co. by a Chinatrust branch in Hong Kong.

"Our prosecutor has issued this warrant against Koo mainly because he failed to appear at the prosecutor's office without a justified reason," said Fred Lin, deputy chief prosecutor at the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office.

Lin continued that subsequent actions will be taken if Koo fails to report to the office within the time the prosecutor has marked on the warrant. Legal sources said that the warrant period given could be less than 10 days and prosecutors may place Koo on a wanted list if he fails to report. If Koo returns to Taiwan to face prosecution in time, the prosecutors will not put him on the wanted list.

But if Koo were placed on a wanted list, the list would remain valid for as many as 25 years.

Legal sources said that prosecutors may put Koo on a wanted list at the end of November at the earliest.

Prosecutors issued the arrest warrant after rejecting Koo's second request for an absence from the scheduled questioning session. Koo applied for the absence on the grounds that he has to take care of his wife and children, which was deemed far from justified by prosecutors.

Koo has reportedly flew to Japan from the U.S., where he is expected to stay for a long while, probably until after he is indicted by prosecutors.

Financial regulators said in July that Koo, 42, didn't consult them before letting the bank use funds earmarked for loans to buy structured bonds issued by Mega Financial Holding. Acquiring Mega would make Chinatrust Taiwan's second-largest financial group by market value.

A Chinatrust financial official said that Koo's post as vice chairman of Chinatrust Financial Holding will be reviewed by the top management in the interest of corporate governance.

The firm's former chief financial officer Perry Chang, legal chief Y.D. Deng and vice president Sean Lin were detained last month.

Koo resigned as chairman of Chinatrust Commercial Bank in July after the Financial Supervisory Commission ordered the parent company to cut its stake in Mega Financial to 6.1 percent from 9.6 percent, and banned it from raising capital.

The penalties were for the purchase by Chinatrust Commercial's Hong Kong unit of US$390 million worth of notes convertible into Mega shares using money earmarked for deposits.

Koo was due to return to Taiwan on Nov. 18 after a two-month study program in the United States. Koo, who has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of business, is the son of Chinatrust Chairman Jeffrey Koo Sr.

Jeffrey Jr.'s younger brother, Angelo Koo, is the president of China Development Financial Holding Co., the island's fifth-largest financial group by market value. That company has been drawn into a bribery probe by prosecutors.

Lin Chung-cheng, a commissioner at Taiwan's top financial regulator, the Financial Supervisory Commission, was detained Nov. 1 for allegedly taking bribes, prosecutors' spokesman Lin Chin-chun said then. Investigators searched offices of the commission and China Development on Oct. 30 in connection with the probe, according to prosecutors.

The Koo family took control of China Development in April 2004 after Angelo Koo defeated former Chairwoman Diana Chen in a boardroom battle when he was president of KGI Securities.

Copyright 2006 China Post. Source: Financial Times Information Limited.

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