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WASHINGTON: US authorities have seized two residences worth $2.1m bought by the family of Taiwan’s jailed ex-president Chen Shui-bian with alleged bribe money, the Justice Department said.
The condo in Manhattan and a home in Virginia had been owned by Chen’s son, but US authorities believe that they were purchased with bribes paid to his mother, former first lady Wu Shu-chen, who like her husband is in prison for graft.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit has possession of the property in Keswick, Virginia, while the title of the New York condo has been handed over to the government.
“We are committed to using every tool available to root out foreign official corruption,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement.
While Chen was in office, Yuanta Securities Co Ltd paid a bribe of Tw$200m (about US$6m) to Wu in 2004 to ensure that the Taipei government would not oppose Yuanta’s bid to acquire a financial holding company, court documents showed.
Chen’s family purchased the two luxury properties in the United States by using Hong Kong and Swiss bank accounts, British Virgin Island companies and a St Kitts and Nevis trust.
ICE Director John Morton said the investigations unit would “continue to find and seize the US assets of foreign corrupt officials who try to use our country to conceal the illicit proceeds and profits of their crimes.”