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Fugitive to invest P18 Trillion in PH

The Philippine government has been urged to reject the investment proposals made by Taiwanese businessman Chen You-hao, more than a month after the head of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) announced that the projects were under consideration, including one priced at a staggering $360 billion (P18.4 trillion).

In a statement on Wednesday, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (Teco) said it had filed a formal request calling on relevant Philippine authorities to reject the investment projects of Chen, whom it described as “Taiwan’s most wanted economic criminal.”

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Teco said Chen might use ill-gotten capital and assets to fund the projects.

The office, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the country in the absence of diplomatic ties between Manila and Taipei, also urged the Bureau of Immigration to arrest Chen, describing him as a “notorious crook” and “economic criminal,” and to deport him back to Taiwan.

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In July, Peza Director General Charito Plaza said the Taiwanese investor proposed to develop an economic zone in Western Pangasinan, with the project cost and locator investments amounting to a combined $360 billion.

The amount is larger than the six-year infrastructure budget of the Duterte administration, estimated to be about P8 trillion.

Plaza said that Chen also bought a property on Roxas Boulevard, which he promised to develop into a P12-billion, 85-story building under the supervision of Peza.

“They already filled up an application form and I will bring [Cheng] to President [Duterte] so he could acknowledge the biggest ecozone investment,” she told reporters.

Chen has been wanted in Taiwan since January 2014, when the Taiwan Taipei District Court indicted him for fraud, embezzlement and other serious economic crimes.

He is accused of defrauding investors of 800 million new Taiwan dollars (NTD), or about P1.35 billion.

According to Teco, Chen fled to Xiamen in China’s Fujian province, leaving behind NTD415 million in tax arrears. He also allegedly defrauded Taiwanese banks and investors of about NTD70 billion.

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Chen took his money to Xiamen, where he founded Xianglu Dragon Group, the same group he represented when he proposed the projects to Plaza.

Teco said that Chen’s new group invested RMB3.88 billion (P29.84 billion) in Fujian’s PX Chemical Zone, which has now incurred a revenue deficit of about RMB2 billion due to poor management.

“He needs to find another suitable place or country to repeat his criminal business model and it seems that his new target is the Philippines,” the Teco statement read.

Plaza said it was former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. who introduced her to the Xianglu Dragon Group. According to her, De Venecia convinced the company to invest in the Philippines.

Teco warned that Taiwanese investors and tax authorities, as well as Chinese creditors, might file lawsuits against Chen and his investment projects once he started business in the Philippines.

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TAGS: Charito Plaza, Chen You-hao, Foreign Investments, Peza, Philippine Economic Zone Authority
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