Taiwan officially charged two executives of a Hong Kong-based company for money laundering on Thursday, while the island’s authorities continue to investigate spying allegations against the pair. Xiang Xin and his wife, Kung Ching, were detained by Taiwanese officials in November 2019 after a defector to Australia accused them of using their company as a front for mainland Chinese intelligence agencies to undermine democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The defector and self-proclaimed former Chinese spy, Wang Liqiang, specifically named the couple’s companies — China Trends and China Innovation Investment Limited — for their alleged role in mainland China’s interference in Taiwan’s presidential elections last year.
The couple, who were in Taiwan when Wang’s allegations were made back in 2019, were detained at Taipei Taoyuan Airport and investigated on whether they broke any national security laws. The indictment came as travel restrictions on the couple are set to expire next week.
Taiwanese investigators found that Xiang and Kung allegedly received HK$203 million in illegal funds from a Shanghai-based company in 2016. The couple then transferred the money back to their Hong Kong bank account, before using it to buy three luxury properties in the high-end Xinyi district of Taipei.
The couple also bought a luxury mansion in another district and tried to open companies in Taiwan under their names and their daughter’s name, but the applications were rejected, according to Taiwanese authorities.
A statement released by China Trends said that the Xiang and Kung claimed they were innocent, and criticized Taiwanese authorities for detaining the couple for over 500 days for alleged national security breaches, but ended up only charging them for money laundering. They said it was an attempt to keep the couple in Taiwan indefinitely.
The company strongly objected to the charges, the statement added.
The investigation also found that the couple had close ties with the Chinese Communist Party. Xiang, whose original name is Xiang Nianxin, was once in the Chinese military and held numerous positions in state-affiliated committees. He emigrated to Hong Kong after retiring from the army and changed his name to Xiang Xin.
In 2019, self-proclaimed former Chinese spy Wang told Australian news media that he worked for Xiang’s company and took part in intelligence operations, when he applied for asylum in the country.
China Innovation Investment has since denied that Wang was one of its employees. The mainland Chinese government also said that Wang was a fugitive in a fraud case.
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