DTI studying fugitive’s investment
Malacañang said on Thursday the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was still conducting “due diligence” on the massive investment proposals of fugitive businessman Chen You-hao, who was described as “Taiwan’s most wanted economic criminal” by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (Teco) in Manila.
The biggest of Chen’s proposed investments here is priced at $360 billion (P18.4 trillion), but Teco advised the Philippine government to reject these given his alleged background in defrauding investors.
Teco said Chen might use ill-gotten gains for the projects.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) earlier said Chen’s proposals were under consideration, including the development of an economic zone in Western Pangasinan.
Peza, which is under the DTI, was directed to study the proposal, said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
“They have been, I think, being given the directive to make sure that, to study … to check into the background of the said potential investor,” he said.
As to whether President Duterte would meet with Chen, Abella said this would depend on the recommendation of his economic managers.
Chen has been wanted in Taiwan since 2014. He had been accused of defrauding investors of NT$800 million, about P1.35 billion.
He later moved to Xiamen in China’s Fujian province and set up a new company, the Xianglu Dragon Group (XDG), which he used to submit proposals to Peza.
Chen’s conglomerate, however, dismissed as “political harassment” the allegations that Teco raised against him.
In a statement, XDG said that Chen was “a Chinese citizen who had been the subject of political persecution in Taiwan under the ruling DPP (Democratic Progressive Party)” after he withdrew support for the administration of jailed former President Chen Shui-ban.
It was the former Taiwanese leader—on medical parole after being convicted of bribery and meted a 19-year prison term—who initiated a case against Chen.
The case was later dismissed by the Taiwan court, according to XDG.
“The proposed Philippine projects are part of the group’s thrust to further its reach in industrial, petrochemical and real estate projects outside China, where it is a leading player in these fields,” XDG said.
Peza Director General Charito Plaza said in July that Chen had proposed to develop a $360-billion economic zone in Western Pangasinan.
The amount is bigger than the infrastructure budget for six years of the Duterte administration, estimated to be about P8 trillion.
The XDG said Plaza and a seven-man team from Peza visited the group’s headquarters in Xiamen a few weeks ago and saw for themselves Chen’s “massive” business interests.
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