TAIPEI (AFP) – Taiwan’s supreme court has reportedly rejected a bid by Iran to make a Taiwanese bank refund $15 million intended for an arms deal that disappeared three decades ago, after it was apparently claimed by three mysterious con artists.
Iran’s defence ministry had sued Taiwan’s Chang Hwa Bank over the deal to purchase arms from the island in 1981.
The deal, according to reports in several Taiwanese newspapers Saturday, was the brainchild of Taiwanese businessman Wu Fu-jeou. Wu reportedly convinced the Iranian government that he could help broker an arms deal with Taiwan.
Wu requested the funds be wired to an account at Chang Hwa Bank – a joint account under the names of three Iranian nationals representing the government who were supposed to withdraw the funds in Taiwan to pay for the deal, according to the Apple Daily newspaper.
But when they went to do so, they were told the money had already been claimed by three other people who had reportedly presented bank officials with the correct documentation.
Taiwanese investigators later found that around $3 million was deposited into an account belonging to Wu’s company, reported the United Daily News, adding that Wu had disappeared and the case was never solved.
Iran filed a lawsuit in Taiwan in 1997 to demand Chang Hwa Bank return the money plus nearly $25 million in interest, but the bank maintained it was not at fault as the trio had apparently presented the proper identification, the reports said.
The suit was denied in Taiwanese courts, and ended up in the supreme court on appeal.
It was rejected there in a final ruling Friday on the grounds that a 15-year statute of limitations for the case had expired, the reports said.