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Court unlocks KMT payroll bank accounts

The Taipei High Administrative Court determined Friday that it is questionable that the Cabinet-level Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee’s move to have certain of the KMT’s bank accounts — which keep deposits the party says are mainly used to pay its employees their wages — frozen pending an investigation.

“The bank accounts, including one at Bank SinoPac (永豐銀行) for salary payments, cannot be frozen” until the judicial proceedings on the case have been finalized, the court ruled.

The ruling came after the KMT applied to the Taipei High Administrative Court last month to stop the freeze, which the party said has resulted in its financial difficulties and has forced it to borrow money to pay its nearly 800 employees their salaries for September and October.

The Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee was set up by the Cabinet based on the Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and Their Affiliated Organizations, which cleared the Legislature in July and took effect in August.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) controls the majority of legislative seats, in which the KMT had held a majority for more than six decades until its defeat in the presidential and legislative elections in January this year.

According to the relevant law, the new committee’s job is to investigate, retroactively confiscate and return or restore to the rightful owners all assets obtained by the KMT and its affiliated organizations since Aug. 15, 1945 — when Japan handed over its assets in Taiwan to the then-ruling party of the Republic of China.

The law assumes that all KMT assets —- except for party membership fees, political donations, government subsidies for KMT candidates running for public office, and interest generated from these funds — are “ill-gotten” and must be transferred to the state or returned to their rightful owners.

The law stipulates that the KMT and its affiliated organizations must, within one year of the law’s promulgation on Aug. 10, register all of the targeted assets — including real estate, cash deposits, securities and bonds — with the new committee.

Facing a lack of resources, the KMT has borrowed money and has even solicited donations from the public to help it overcome its financial difficulties.