Taiwan Civil Government rivals spar during marathon fraud trial

Former political prisoner Tsai Tsai-yuan poses outside his old cell door at the infamous Green Island Prison and Julian Lin speaking a 2017 POLITICO event in Washington. (credits: Taiwan Civil Government)

The long-running trial of Taiwan Civil Government leaders for fraud may finally be coming to a close in May 2021. The May 10, 2018 raid of TCG headquarters and arrest of a half-dozen persons, including founder Roger Lin, was followed by a controversial trial, ignored by the news media, that has dragged on for nearly two years.

Taiwan Civil Government is an advocacy organization that seeks to expel the exiled Republic of China from Taiwan. The group wants the United States to force out the ROC, which America installed on the island in 1945 after World War II. The pro-American group gambled on Donald Trump to accomplish the task, heavily spending on an expensive public relations campaign in an attempt to influence the White House.

Meanwhile, the ROC was watching TCG headway in Washington. Julian Lin, wife of Roger Lin, managed to score a tete-a-tete with presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway at a TCG funded POLITICO event in 2017 and the group was scheduled to have a private reception at the Heritage Foundation with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. After ROC political sleuths learned of the upcoming event, orders were given for the raid of TCG headquarters.

Roger and Julian Lin were held for five months incommunicado, without bail, along with You Xiang-jing the TCG landlord. TCG Prime Minister Tsai Tsai-yuan was also charged but was granted a nominal bail. Tsai, a former ROC political prisoner, once held at the infamous Green Island Prison, would have attracted sympathetic public attention. Two employees of You were also charged.

The news media was tipped off about the raid by someone in law enforcement so that full media coverage of the arrests could be assured. When the Lins were being booked, they were held back from being sent to jail until the television crews had set up their mobile broadcast vehicles to capture on video the Lins in handcuffs during what is known as a “perp walk” to inflame public opinion.

The efforts of ROC prosecutors against the TCG leadership were part of a larger campaign to break the organization which included interrogations of group members, police surveillance of TCG parades, and destruction of TCG headquarters.

It took a full-page ad in the New York Times to end the pre-trial detention. A hefty bond was required when bail was finally granted a week after the newspaper advertisement. Roger and Julian Lin were then required to report daily to a police station to sign a log book.

The trial itself is no model of justice. For starters, there is no jury. The Republic of China in-exile does not believe in the jury system so there are no juries in Taiwan. Speedy trial? Forget about it. The trial has consisted of multiple hearings with witness testimony, interrupted by continuances, dragging on month after month.

Public trial? Barely. The marathon trial has been held in a tiny courtroom that only seats twenty people despite the hundreds of TCG members that have showed up to watch the proceedings. The lucky few that get selected for a courtroom seat have to apply and be searched.

Prosecutors claim many group members were victims. However, several dozen alleged victims have come forward to deny their victim status. Many of the so-called victims tell of multiple interrogations where they themselves were threatened with prosecution. One of the prosecutors’ ploys was to show the alleged victims a photo of Julian Lin and Kellyanne Conway and claim it was photo-shopped. That falsehood was tried on the TCG photographer who actually took the picture, catching the prosecutor’s investigator in a lie.

Roger Lin, who had end-stage prostate cancer, died in November 2019 after suffering a fall at home. Lin’s cancer went untreated during the pre-trial detention until he was finally able to obtain a court order requiring chemotherapy.

Lin’s death did more to break Taiwan Civil Government than any of the actions of ROC prosecutors. In November 2019 the group split with a faction known as TCG 3.0 headed by co-defendant Tsai Tsai-yuan. Tsai’s faction now believes the Lins enriched themselves with donated money. A third faction, which had already broken away, called Taiwan Government, is headed by former TCG officer Gavin Tsai. Gavin also believes that Roger Lin mislead the organization.

The defendants have been charged with making false claims about United States support and misleading group members about the benefits of the TCG identity card. ROC prosecutors wrote to the defacto United States embassy in Taipei, called the American Institute in Taiwan, asking if TCG was sponsored by the American government. The AIT response remains sealed, a Freedom of Information request for the document was denied citing national security. However, Roger Lin, before his death, said he had been showed the letter and it said no comment.

Over the years, Lin hinted he had back-channel connections within the State Department and said he was twice approached by the Central Intelligence Agency but declined their overtures. One CIA contact reportedly offered to arm the Black Bear Squad, a paramilitary unit of TCG used for security during their marches and parades. ROC investigators watching TCG’s moves became very interested in the headway the group was making with the Trump administration, which was followed by the 2018 raid and arrests.

The criminal culpability of Julian Lin and Tsai Tsai-yuan remains yet unproven. If Roger Lin did indeed make false claims or embezzle money, Julian or Tsai may not have been aware and may themselves have been deceived. The trial grinds on even though charges were dropped against Roger Lin after his death.

Finally, after many long months and repeated adjournments, Julian Lin testified on March 18, 2021. Prosecutors, after learning Julian joined TCG in 2012, asked if the United States authorized TCG which she denied.

Julian denied a formal position in TCG and said before her involvement with the organization she worked at a department store.

The prosecutor asked Julian about an interview with the Times Weekly reporting the TCG identity card, manufactured in the United States, could be used to enter the country. Lin said she only gave her own experience to the reporter and did not proof read the article for the newspaper.

“Once when I went to the United States, there were too many people at the airport and we had to catch the plane and it was too late…There is an official gate passage on the left, we walked to the official Customs gate. I showed my passport. Put the TCG ID card and the event invitation letter together and Customs quickly cleared us.”

Julian told the court she was unfamiliar with the terms of the lease for TCG headquarters where she lived after marrying Roger Lin and denied knowing landlord You’s responsibilities. Lin denied giving any instructions to You’s cashier, a co-defendant.

Julian Lin said any money she handled she gave to Roger and any funds she received from the cashier were her own assets. Julian said she did not know what Roger did with any money she gave him.

Lin testified that money transmitted to a bank in Hong Kong by the cashier was her own money. When asked why the cashier remitted money to the account of the TCG Foundation in Washington, her response was, “I don’t know.”

When asked about some property owned by Lin, she stated the source of the funds were her own. When asked why only cash payments she replied, “Cash to the bank is the same as cash to the real estate agency.”

Julian said she was only a volunteer of TCG and never drew a salary. “Whenever help was needed, I would help.” Lin denied having access to the finances of the organization although said she was a signatory on a TCG checking account on advice of American lawyers to expedite payments.

“American lawyers once said that TCG Foundation accounts can only be viewed, and each transaction must be reviewed by an accountant or lawyer to declare tax payment, and can only be used for US control and public relations related expenses.”

Julian would sign checks for TCG only on instruction of Roger. She said some of the payment decisions were made at the weekly Roundtable which she sometimes attended.

Questioning then turned to payments made by Xu Yiming to pay for Roger Lin & Julian Lin v. United States & Republic of China litigation. This landmark lawsuit sought to overturn the ROC Nationality Act which deprived Formosans of their Japanese citizenship. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals denied the case citing the long passage of time and suggested that Japan should also have been a named party. The lawsuit was litigated by Washington attorney Charles Camp who maintains the litigation was brought in good faith and was not a frivolous claim. The federal appellate court language in the decision, friendly to the plaintiffs, supports Camp’s assertions.

Julian testified she let Roger handle the financial business and that to avoid paperwork delay would deposit money in her United States bank account as back up when she traveled. Frequent trips to the United States required the movement of money.

A curious line of questioning about LINE, a popular social media app in Asia, suggests the weakness of the prosecution case against Julian. Lin was asked a half-dozen questions about LINE and TCG’s use of the popular app. What would be fraudulent about the use of free software, in use by over a half-billion people worldwide, that was wildly popular in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan?

In a post-hearing statement, Lin explained that she had been erroneously identified as the advocate of LINE use within the organization and that the prosecution was attempting to portray her as a mastermind making command decisions. “Because Tsai Tsai-yuan and others said that since I joined TCG, the members started to use LINE. The Bureau of Investigation wanted to shape me to be the mastermind and said I was Roger’s boss. LINE is a free software tool that will share learning with each other, now very popular in Taiwan.”

Co-defendant Tsai Tsai-yuan did in fact raise questions about LINE, echoing the prosecution inquiry. The court session provided a showdown between rivals as Tsai also had a few other questions for Julian and asked her what her role in the Taiwan-American Chamber of Commerce was. The TACC, a now defunct chapter of the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, was under the control of TCG lobbyist Neil Hare of Global Vision Communications. Julian replied, “That is not the TCG, I did not participate.”

Neil Hare ended the TACC after TCG defaulted on a million dollar lobbying contract. Tsai has reported talking with Hare, an attorney, about recovering a fabled United States bank account set up by Roger Lin that was frozen by the Justice Department after Lin’s 2018 arrest. Julian has spoken with Charles Camp about potential litigation while Gavin Tsai of the spin-off Taiwan Government is seeking counsel to open the bank account.

Tsai pressed Lin over her role in the TCG Foundation to which she replied she was unaware of any role other than as a signatory. Tsai then produced a foundation business card that identified Julian as a vice-president to which she replied she had no impression.

Tsai wanted to know about Roundtable decision-making. “Why can you participate in the Roundtable meeting as a volunteer?”

Lin snapped back, “The members participating in the Roundtable are all volunteers. Are you not a volunteer, do you have a salary?”

Tsai asked about litigation involving Julian’s brother and asked if any TCG money was involved. Lin said that the money in that case was her own and no TCG funds were used. That was followed with a question about a house Julian owned before marrying Roger. Lin testified the house was paid for with her own money. Tsai then asked the judge to order Lin to provide proof the money was hers.

The Chief Judge replied, “I have been patient and respectful of you. Please ask questions about this case.”

Tsai responded, “With so many properties for you, is it the “dowry” that you married to “our” Roger Lin of the Taiwan Civil Government?”

Julian flung back a snappy answer. “I am not married to “your” Roger Lin of the Taiwan Civil Government, I am married to my beloved man, Roger C. S. Lin.”

Tsai wanted to know if the money transfers to Hong Kong and Washington were part of her dowry to which Lin replied it was her money. Tsai asked about the large sum of currency seized from a closet at the time of the 2018 raid. Julian gave the same answer, it was her private funds.

Lin testified she did not know who was handling weekly donations from Roundtable sessions and reminded Tsai that he left the organization in November 2019. Any of Tsai’s money questions elicited the same response from Lin, “I don’t know.”

The presiding judge got into action and asked Lin of she chose the pattern of the TCG identity card. Julian replied, “Roger Lin asked me which patterns are better and I gave him my opinion of the style.”

Lin was asked more questions about property and an automobile registered under another a co-defendant’s name. Julian explained she gave Roger the money and let him handle transactions.

Julian Lin’s personal wealth was an object of commentary by Tsai Tsai-yuan. “Julian Lin has so many properties at such a young age.”

Lin declines to answer questions about her family wealth. Both Julian and Tsai deny any personal enrichment from Taiwan Civil Government funds or donations. Lin feels that Tsai is now working with the prosecution. If so, that would be a switch. The former political prisoner spent long years in ROC prisons and was tortured for speaking out about prison conditions.

Four court dates are scheduled for May to continue witness cross-examination as the seemingly never ending trial drags on.


Author: richardsonreports

Author of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story.

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