By Chang Wen-chuan and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writer
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld a guilty verdict by the Taiwan High Court against Hualien County Commissioner Fu Kun-chi （傅崐萁） for insider trading and sentenced him to eight months in prison, bringing to a close a legal battle that lasted for 14 years.
The Ministry of the Interior last night relieved Fu of his duties, effective immediately.
Fu was accused in 2005 of breaching the Securities and Exchange Act （證券交易法） by manipulating the stock price of Hold-Key Electric Wire & Cable Co Ltd （合機電線電纜） through insider trading.
Fu, then a People First Party legistlator, was approached by Hold-Key general manager Yang Kai-ti （楊愷悌） and deputy general manager Yu Su-yuan （余素緣）, who offered him 20 million company shares at NT$15 per share, the Supreme Court ruling said.
Hold-Key had just won a bid to build an electric supply system for state-run Taiwan Power Co （台電）, and Yang and Yu saw it as an opportunity to boost the company’s stock price, it said.
Fu brought in friends and stock market analyst Chang Shih-chieh （張世傑）, who convinced people that the stock was a good investment, the ruling said.
The Hold-Key stock price soared from NT$15 per share in October 2003 to NT$47 per share in January 2004, earning Fu and the others a total of NT$96 million （US$3.11 million at the current exchange rate） in illicit gains, it added.
Fu was originally sentenced to one year and four months in prison by the second appellate court, but his jail term was reduced to eight months, as the case was eligible for a sentence reduction according to the Criminal Speedy Trial Act （刑事妥速審判法）, yesterday’s ruling said.
The Hualien County District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday said it had received a notice from the Supreme Court to impose travel restrictions on Fu and had instructed harbor and airport authorities to deny Fu passage should he try to leave the nation.
Ministry of the Interior Department of Civil Affairs Director Lin Ching-chi （林清淇） said that Fu had been dismissed as county commissioner per Article 79 of the Local Government Act （地方制度法）.
The Executive Yuan would be notified of the need to appoint an acting commissioner, as the regulations stipulate that the deputy commissioner is to be relieved of their duties as well, Lin said.
Given the timing of the Supreme Court’s announcement, the dismissal paperwork would take some time, Lin added.
While the ministry holds the right to nominate a replacement, the Executive Yuan holds the deciding vote, Lin said.
Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung （徐國勇） said the ministry had yet to nominate anyone for acting commissioner.
“The ministry must receive the court ruling before we can have the Executive Yuan approve any candidates,” Hsu said.
The acting commissioner would serve until Dec. 25 when the winner of the Nov. 24 Hualien commissioner race would assume office, Lin said.
Additional reporting by CNA