EXPEDIENCY: The judges cited Koo’s cooperation with the probe and repayment of illegal profits, as well as the Criminal Speedy Trial Act, for the lighter punishment
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
The Taiwan High Court yesterday handed down a reduced jail term of three years and six months to Jeffrey Koo Jr （辜仲諒）, former deputy chairman of CTBC Financial Holding Co, for embezzlement and illegal financial dealings.
Koo had earlier been convicted of breach of trust, embezzlement and related financial irregularities under the Securities and Exchange Act （證券交易法） and the Banking Act （銀行法）, with his illegal profits estimated at up to NT$1.3 billion （US$42.17 million at the current exchange rate.）
In the first ruling in October 2010, the Taipei District Court gave Koo a nine-year prison term, which he appealed.
Following a retrial, the High Court in May 2013 handed him a heavier term of nine years and eight months, and imposed a NT$150 million fine.
Yesterday’s ruling, which was widely seen as lenient, can still be appealed.
The High Court yesterday said in a statement that the retrial took more than four years to investigate and examine the details of the case, resulting in the upholding of Koo’s convictions for breach of trust and other offenses, as well as contraventions of the Financial Holding Company Act （金融控股公司法）.
However, despite finding Koo guilty of all charges, the court said he was eligible for a reduced sentence, citing his cooperation with the investigation and repayment of the illegal profits.
Another reason cited by the judges for Koo’s reduced sentence was the Criminal Speedy Trial Act （刑事妥速審判法）, which was promulgated in 2010 and stipulates that a defendant can apply for a reduced term if a criminal trial has exceeded eight years.
Koo’s lawyer, Yeh Chien-ting （葉建廷）, said in a statement that his client regrets that the High Court upheld the breach of trust conviction, adding that they would file an appeal to “get an acquittal on all charges.”
An investigation found that from 2004 to 2007, Koo and other senior CTBC Financial executives transferred money to an offshore shell company, Hong Kong-registered Red Fire Development.
NT$27.5 billion of those funds were used to purchase a 9.9 percent stake in Mega Financial Holding Co, but the transactions were not approved by CTBC Financial’s board, investigators said.
The investigation found Koo, who was then chairman of CTBC Bank Co and deputy chairman of CTBC Financial, responsible for ordering the transfer of the funds and the subsequent financial transactions.
The High Court yesterday also upheld convictions against former CTBC chief financial officer Perry Chang （張明田） and former CTBC Bank vice general manager Lin Hsiang-hsi （林祥曦） for their roles in the case, handing them sentences of four years and two years respectively.
Another defendant, former CTBC chief compliance officer Teng Yen-tun （鄧彥敦）, was acquitted of all charges in yesterday’s ruling.
Koo’s convictions have been a source of embarrassment not only for the financial sector, but also the nation’s sports establishment, as he is chairman of the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association and the owner of Brothers Baseball Club.