When investigating financial crimes the rule is to follow the money. In the curious case of Taiwan Civil Government the paper trail leads from Taiwan to Washington in perhaps the most ambitious swindle ever perpetrated if you believe prosecutors of the exiled Republic of China. Roger Lin and six others were arrested in May 2018 and charged with political fraud. According to Taiwanese news reports, ROC prosecutors claim $25 million was deceptively obtained from donors by Lin, founder of TCG, with false claims of future events, including American assistance expelling the ROC from Taiwan.
Two weeks after midnight raids and arrests in Taiwan, an eighteen member delegation of Taiwan Civil Government traveled to Washington for a round of meetings and TCG sponsored media events. The first meeting was with group lobbyist Neil Hare. The president of Global Vision Communications, a registered Foreign Agent, Hare brought along sidekick Shelley Hymes, head of public relations firm Angel Enterprises. In 2017, the pair were paid over a half-million dollars for their efforts to advance TCG in the world of Washington insiders.
The meeting to assure that Hare and Hymes would not jump ship was billed as a response to “ROC oppression” and included a presentation of gold lapel pins to signify unity. Taiwanese news sources say that prosecutors are looking at an unspecified number of unnamed, unindicted Washington co-conspirators. Hare and Hymes oversaw hefty TCG spending in Washington since the election of Donald Trump in a bid to buy influence within the White House and would be on a short list of suspected co-conspirators along with several Washington attorneys.
Confused yet? The whole scenario arises from Taiwan’s seven decades of unresolved international status commonly called a strategic ambiguity. The United States installed Republic of China troops on Formosa, as Taiwan was then called, at the end of World War II. However, sovereignty of the former Japanese territory was left undermined at the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty. The ROC claims to be the legitimate government of the island but is not recognized by the United States or most of the world’s nations. The murky situation has spawned a multitude of groups in Taiwan seeking a future without the ROC in control. Taiwan Civil Government, formed in 2008, is one of the most vocal and well funded advocacy groups.
The claims of the ROC in turn lead to claims by the People’s Republic of China for control of Taiwan. Taiwan’s unresolved status has created instability in the region with both the PRC and ROC laying claim to that which neither ever had sovereignty over. President Obama was urged by the District of Columbia federal appellate court to end Taiwan’s “political purgatory” and resolve the status as expeditiously as possible. Obama never acted. President Donald Trump could be the game changer.
The election of Trump saw a sharp increase in TCG spending hosting inauguration events, POLITCO receptions, Congressional Quarterly Roll Call Live shows, a Foreign Policy think-tank luncheon, a Heritage Foundation event, The McLaughlin Group show, advertising, junkets and consultant fees. Hare’s job was to coordinate the Washington campaign and everything was go until the fraud arrests, which included Julian Lin, wife of Roger. Three days after the lapel pin presentation the TCG delegation started to feel the repercussions of the arrests. Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross abruptly dropped out of a TCG sponsored Heritage Foundation event just minutes before the start. Elsewhere in Washington, Roll Call Live canceled a scheduled Congressional panel on Asia after two Representatives pulled out after learning of the arrests.
Hare’s new contract with TCG, for $560,000, would turn his attention away from Washington and instead work the embassies of G7 countries for international recognition. Hare claims he remains on course and will complete his 2018 duties, business as usual. Hymes is more elusive. As Hymes works as a consultant to Hare her contract with TCG is not subject to disclosure under the Foreign Agent Registration Act and details of her involvement are not available. Neither Hare or Hymes are willing to discuss the fraud arrests.
Hymes, a longtime friend of Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway, was able to see Julian Lin and Conway connected in May 2017 at the POLITCO Powerlist reception, funded by TCG, which honored Conway as one of Washington’s most powerful players. Within weeks of the POLITICO session with Conway, a massive parade was staged in Taipei by TCG in an apparent effort to signal to Trump the pro-American slant to the group.
Was the United States ever going to expel the ROC? One clue might be if Roger Lin is able to gain freedom or continue to remain in strict pre-trial detention in solitary confinement, incommunicado and without bail. Innocent until proven guilty does not seem to be a concept that applies in this case as harsh punishment has already begun. If Lin really does have friends in high places, now is the time for them to act.
The above content has been corrected. Neil Hare was reported to be tardy filing a disclosure reportson spending. Instead, Hare made a timely report and it was the Justice Department that was tardy releasing Hare’s report. I regret the error.