After reading about Prince Charles’s money-for-privilege scandal only a couple of weeks ago, by a strange coincidence the Republic of China’s murky past has once again caught up with it, proving that even a fugitive wanted by Taiwanese authorities is paying for access to Prince Charles. In this unusual confluence of stories, we are able to examine two extremely corrupt practices, which show how a group of unelected billionaire rulers is able to confer a degree of respectability on families that live in luxury on the proceeds of crime, and sharing in those illicit profits.
The fugitive from the law at the centre of this scandal is Bruno Wang, son of the now-deceased Andrew Wang, who was the Taiwanese agent for the French arms manufacturer Thomson-CSF (now known as Thales). Andrew Wang, along with senior ROC naval personnel and the KMT including the Premier at the time Hau Pei-tsun, interfered with the procurement process when buying new ships for the navy to favour the French Lafayette class of frigates over other more suitable ships from other countries and manufacturers. The French government, along with Thomson-CSF then paid US$500 million in kickbacks, with at least US$400 million going to KMT government and naval officials. Andrew Wang set up bank accounts in Switzerland and other tax havens in order to facilitate the payment of these kickbacks.
When an ROC naval officer, Yin Ching-fen, who was not in on the deal, discovered the corruption and was going to blow the whistle, he was murdered and his body was dumped at sea, only for it to wash up in Suao, thus exposing the whole scandal that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. It really makes you wonder how many other illegal schemes have been going on over the decades, but have not come to light because the conspirators paid off or murdered all necessary parties.
Of course Bruno Wang, being the son of the criminal Andrew Wang, may not be directly guilty of the murder or the corruption, but he is living off the proceeds of these crimes. How is that any kind of justice? If one’s parents or associates make a fortune by criminal means, then squirrel the money away for their family and friends to enjoy, that does not in any way legitimise that money. By trying to buy influence with this blood money now, you can see how he is trying to launder the profits of crime in order to bring respectability to his disgraced family name, and in so doing, further highlighting the sleaze in royal patronage systems such as that offered by Prince Charles.