Taiwanese father-daughter fugitives caught in Singapore, will be extradited to the US

SINGAPORE – A father-daughter pair from Taiwan who were on the run from the United States authorities for 20 years have been found and arrested in Singapore.

Voni Chen, 57, and her father Richard Chen, 87, were convicted in 2001 of mail fraud, after they secured a US$5 million (S$6.9 million) loan from a credit company using false invoices.

Richard Chen was a principal while his daughter was the president of Golden Pacific Manufacturing Corporation, a company that manufactured and sold plastic bags.

The pair managed the company together, but it soon began to experience cash-flow problems.

They then hatched a scheme to defraud a credit company by sending over invoices of falsified orders.

Golden Pacific asked other companies to act as its customers even though they never bought merchandise from the company.

The Chens asked their existing customers to represent that they had purchased more goods from Golden Pacific than they actually ordered. The pair also created shell companies to act as fake customers.

The credit company loaned the money to Golden Pacific based on these falsified invoices.

The duo were charged and later pleaded guilty to mail fraud in October 2001. When they failed to appear for their sentencing hearings in May 2002, the judge issued warrants for their arrest.

A spokesman for the Singapore Police Force said Interpol Red Notices were also previously issued by the US authorities against the duo.

The spokesman added that the Chens had entered Singapore on July 25 and were arrested here on July 29.

In a statement on Nov 18 this year, the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California said Singaporean authorities had alerted the US authorities that they had found the Chens in Singapore after 20 years.

They were arrested here on a US provisional arrest request, and had consented to extradition to the US.

Singapore’s Minister for Law then ordered both of them to be extradited, the statement added.

Voni Chen was transported to the US on Nov 17, and appeared in a federal court in Oakland on Nov 18.

The US Attorney’s Office said Richard Chen is awaiting transportation, and the Singapore police is currently assisting with this.

It said: “The US Justice Department, including the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, thanks the Singapore Police Force and Attorney-General’s Chambers for its cooperation with the United States.”

This is the second reported extradition from Singapore to the US in six weeks.

On Oct 14, Singapore extradited a 74-year-old man who had been on the run from US authorities for 30 years.

Jack Hsu, who was convicted in Dallas, Texas, in 1992 of bank fraud and embezzlement, had initially fled to Taiwan but was caught here in July.

He began serving his 33-month sentence immediately after he was returned to the US.

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