Taiwan quake: Suspects' assets to be seized

Relatives attending a memorial service for quake victims in Tainan yesterday. The 6.4-magnitude quake has left at least 96 people dead, and 94 of them were residents of a building that collapsed.
Relatives attending a memorial service for quake victims in Tainan yesterday. The 6.4-magnitude quake has left at least 96 people dead, and 94 of them were residents of a building that collapsed.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

NEW TAIPEI CITY • Up to NT$30 million (S$1.3 million) in assets belonging to a developer and three associates will be seized, a court in Taiwan has ruled.

The four of them are linked to a building that collapsed during an earthquake. So far, 94 residents have been confirmed dead.

Rescuers are still digging through the rubble of the 16-storey Wei-guan Golden Dragon apartment complex in the southern city of Tainan which collapsed in last Saturday's quake. As of yesterday afternoon, the 6.4-magnitude temblor has left at least 96 people in the quake zone dead and more than 550 injured. At least 28 people remain missing.

Prosecutors questioning the developer and two others connected with the building have said there were "flaws" in the residential complex, including a lack of steel reinforcement girders.

Pictures of the ruins showed tin cans and foam were used as fillers in the concrete, exacerbating public anger over the latest safety scandal to hit the island.

Tainan's district court yesterday gave the city government the go-ahead to freeze assets belonging to developer Lin Ming-hui and three associates. "The Tainan district court handled it quickly and granted... provisional seizure up to NT$30 million of the assets of the related people," a government statement said. It added this was to prevent the developer and his associates from "disposing of assets".

Lin and two of the men have been detained on charges of professional negligence resulting in death. The fourth to have his assets seized was a contractor, who has not been detained.

NT$30 million is a preliminary figure to cover the property damages of victims who have already made claims.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Taiwan quake: Suspects' assets to be seized'. Print Edition | Subscribe