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Monday, 2 July, 2001, 04:26 GMT 05:26 UK
Swiss target Taiwan arms dealer
Taiwan naval vessels
Wang allegedly oiled the sale of war ships to Taiwan
By Emma-Jane Kirby in Geneva

Investigators in Switzerland have frozen two bank accounts belonging to a Taiwanese arms dealer.

The accounts are believed to be linked to a frigate sale to Taiwan which is part of one of France's biggest sleaze scandals.

The accounts, worth $140m, belong to Andrew Wang, who is currently wanted in Taiwan in connection with the murder of the whistleblower on the scandal.

Roland Dumas
Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas: Jailed for sleaze
They are thought to relate to kickbacks used to secure a French contract to supply Taiwan with warships in the early 1990s.

The Swiss authorities say they have now blocked several accounts of Mr Wang and his family both in Switzerland and in Luxembourg.

Suspect transfers

According to the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, the authorities were alerted to the accounts after a bank official in Zurich became suspicious as to why Mr Wang's wife and his son Bruno were moving documents and millions of dollars into several different bank accounts across Switzerland.

Investigators suspect the money comes from a secret commission given to Mr Wang in 1991 after he was instrumental in securing a deal for a French company, Thomson CSF, to build six missile frigates for Taiwan.

Two years later, an officer in the Taiwanese navy, Captain Yin Ching Feng, was found murdered at his home.

The officer had opposed the French contract and had claimed he was going to blow the whistle on alleged malpractices.

Mr Wang, who was Thomson's agent in Taiwan, left the island a few days after the captain's death.

Last September the Taiwanese high court prosecutor issued an order for the arrest of Andrew Wang on the charge of murder, but so far the authorities have been unable to trace where he is living.

The Swiss authorities are also unclear as to Mr Wang's whereabouts, but say they have now seized up to $220 m of his assets while his case is considered.

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See also:

25 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Impeachments over Taiwan navy scandal
30 Jan 01 | Europe
Dumas rejects sleaze charges
24 Jan 01 | Europe
Dumas 'heartbroken' over trial
22 Jan 01 | Europe
A potential political earthquake
01 Mar 00 | Europe
Dumas resigns in corruption probe
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