《TAIPEI TIMES》 Han accused of pressing building firm into lending
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chun-hsien at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday holds a document related to Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s purchase of a home. Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
By Ann Maxon / Staff reporter
Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu （韓國瑜） allegedly pressed a construction company into offering a NT$14 million （US$459,997 at the current exchange rate） loan for a pre-sold luxury apartment he purchased from it in 2015, Democratic Progressive Party （DPP） Legislator Lin Chun-hsien （林俊憲） said yesterday.
Taiwan Fertilizer Co initially refused when Han asked for the loan in November 2014, but agreed in April 2015 after Han’s wife, Lee Chia-fen （李佳芬）, arranged three meetings between the company and a city councilor, Lin told a news conference in Taipei.
The purchase became the center of media attention after the Chinese-language Next Magazine on Wednesday reported that the Chinese Nationalist Party’s （KMT） presidential candidate had purchased a 90 ping （298m2） apartment in Taipei’s Nangang District （南港） for more than NT$70 million in 2011 and sold it in 2015 at a loss of about 3.5 percent.
Lin on Thursday said that Han allegedly used his political connections to demand a 20-year loan of more than NT$14 million from Taiwan Fertilizer to purchase the apartment, but did not offer many details or evidence.
At yesterday’s news conference, Lin presented copies of the Taipei City Government’s records of meetings held by a city councilor to resolve disputes between the company, Han and other buyers of its apartments.
The first meeting, on Dec. 24, 2014, prompted the company to waive a 15 percent fine on homebuyers who failed to pay overdue installments by Dec. 26, saving Han more than NT$10 million, Lin said.
Two more meetings in January 2015 led the company to agree to offer a 20-year loan of NT$1.3 billion to six buyers, including NT$14.38 million to Han, he said.
The loan breached the company’s policy, which bans it from offering loans longer than one year, he said.
Moreover, the loans were not approved by the firm’s board of directors and are nowhere to be found in its financial statements, he said, urging the Council of Agriculture, the company’s biggest shareholder, to launch an investigation.
“The reason so many are suffering in this world is because people like you are hiking up housing prices,” Lin said, an apparent reference to a remark of Han’s that “one must always keep in mind the many people who are suffering in this world.”
The council yesterday said it would ask Taiwan Fertilizer to submit a report about the loans and brief its board of directors within a week.
Han’s campaign office said that anyone who interprets an unprofitable apartment sale as a speculative investment designed to hike up housing prices must have either “a flawed intellect or the wrong attitude.”
Lin should do some research about President Tsai Ing-wen’s （蔡英文） 15 speculative real-estate investments in Taipei’s Neihu District （內湖）, it said.
The office did not provide more details about the apartment, saying it had already explained the matter.
Should people find anything illegal with the sale, they are welcome to report it, it added.
Additional reporting by Wang Jung-hsiang and CNA