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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Checkbook Diplomacy Fizzles Out in Suburb

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Taiwan claims an expatriate fled to the Los Angeles area after bilking his homeland of $29.8 million, and used some of his ill-gotten gains to buy land in a Los Angeles suburb. Taiwan paid the money in a failed bit of "checkbook diplomacy," seeking diplomatic recognition from Papua New Guinea.

A Singaporean court ruled last year that Taiwan could recover the millions of dollars it paid to defendant Charles Chi Ju Ching and his partner Shih-Tsai Wu. The money was part of a bungled attempt to persuade Papua New Guinea to sever ties with Beijing and recognize Taiwan as a diplomatic partner.

According to the Superior Court complaint: "In September 2006 plaintiff The Government of The Republic of China (Taiwan), in reliance upon defendant Charles Ching's representations and promises, transferred US $29.8 million into a bank account in Singapore jointly operated by Ching and his partner Shih-Tsai Wu to fund certain projects in Papua New Guinea (PNG) if PNG established full diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Defendant Charles Ching and Wu were appointed as the plaintiff's intermediaries in its attempt to establish diplomatic relations with PNG. After it became clear that diplomatic relations would not be established, plaintiff asked for the return of the money, but Ching and Wu refused to return the money to the Taiwanese government."

In May 2008, Taiwan's Vice Premier Chiou I-Jen quit the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and acknowledged that he had arranged for the Foreign Ministry to pay the money into Ching's bank account in Singapore.

Shih-Tsai Wu was arrested and jailed for 2 years and 4 months, while Ching went into hiding in the United States, according to contemporary news reports.

In its complaint, Taiwan claims that Ching bought two tracts of land in Arcadia, a suburb of Los Angeles, and transferred title of the property to his family members to avoid the Singaporean judgment.

"The above-noted transfers were made with an actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud plaintiff, the creditor of defendant/judgment debtor Charles Ching, in the collection of its claim under the Singapore judgment." the complaint states.

Taiwan says that the transfers "were intra-family transfers and not arms'-length transfers for value."

Defendants include Ching's wife Susan, his children John and Annie, and his brother-in-law Sayuri Fujie. John and Susan Ching's firm, Jas Company, is also named.

Taiwan is represented by Maxwell Lin of West Covina.

It seeks to set aside fraudulent transfer, damages for conspiracy and imposition of a constructive trust.

The law firm responded without comment to a request for an interview.

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