PEZA stands by Taiwanese businessman accused of fraud

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MANILA – The Philippine Economic Zone Authority on Tuesday stood by its dealings with a Taiwanese businessman tagged by Taipei as an “economic criminal.”

The PEZA is also seeking a meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Xianglu Dragon Group, according to the agency’s Director General, Charito Plaza.

Taipei’s de facto embassy in Manila had accused Xianglu Dragon chairman You Hao Chen of large-scale fraud and sought his deportation, but Filipino authorities declined the request since he holds a Chinese passport.

“It’s is just a warning and we are a sovereign and independent nation so we should decide for ourselves kung gusto ba natin ng investment (if we want these investments),” Plaza told reporters.

“They want to present to the President their proposed investments and projects, to let the President know how sincere they are” she said.

Chen wants to build a 3,000-hectare economic zone in Pangasinan province north of the capital, which is envisioned to house a petrochemical facility and an airport. He also plans to build an 85-story building along Roxas Boulevard, which could be the tallest in the country. 

Plaza said former House Speaker Jose de Venecia introduced Chen to her. Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman emeritus Francis Chua and Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas also vouched for Chen, she said.

Plaza said the PEZA board went to Xiamen after it received the warning from Taiwan and found out that Chen was a capable investor.

“Sino naman tayo na hindi natin tanggapin na totoong legal na capable at credible ang applicant?” she said.

(Who are we to refuse a legal, capable and credible applicant?)

Xianglu Dragon lawyer Leonelle Mojal-Infante refuted the allegations against Chen during the same briefing at PEZA. 

Infante said Chen could be the victim of “political persecution.”

Chen was accused of making fraudulent entries in accounting books of a Tuntex Group subsidiary when he was in Taiwan, according to Taipei court records obtained by ABS-CBN News. He has been wanted since 2014.

Documents also showed that Chen owes the Taiwanese government nearly 440 million Taiwan dollars (P744.8 million) in tax aggregate income from 2002 to 2004.

The Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office said Chen fled to Xiamen where he invested 3.88 billion yuan (P30 billion) in a chemicals business. The venture is mired in a “cash flow gap,” said the diplomatic post.



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