On July 9, prosecutors of the exiled Republic of China formally charged Roger and Julian Lin, leaders of Taiwan Civil Government, and others for fraud and illegal fundraising. Following a two month investigation, the indictments of the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office led to Taiwanese media mention of unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators in Washington that aided the alleged political fraud.
The suspects are accused of violating the Organized Crime Prevention Act and the Money Laundering Control Act. Roger Lin and the others allegedly defrauded 315 people of $25.8 million by seeking donations under false pretenses of a fictional United States Military Government that was to bestow its blessings on TCG.
Prosecutors are also seeking to seize cash recovered from the Lin residence and confiscate four properties owned by the Lins. The prosecutors were careful to steer clear of national security allegations for forming a shadow government complete with its own paramilitary unit and claiming the ROC is not the legitimate government of Taiwan. Prosecutors determined no foreign government was behind TCG which had conducted no spying activity hence no national security issues. Several years ago Taipei prosecutors explored treason charges against Roger Lin but dropped the matter after interrogating Lin.
Prosecutors did not name the Washington co-conspirators but did allege that various Washington public relations events of TCG were part of an elaborate hoax to draw in donations. Since the election of Donald Trump the group has been aggressively hosting Washington events, inaugural parties, sponsoring media houses and partnering with the Heritage Foundation. TCG managed to make a connection with Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, as a result of its lobbying efforts.
Federal litigation brought by Roger Lin seeking court assistance for the stateless residents of Taiwan was part of the fraud scheme according to the ROC prosecutors. The Lin case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction with the court ruling the matter was for the executive branch not the judiciary.
Clarification of the allegations against TCG leaders now put the issue of Taiwan's unresolved status, and TCG's efforts to expel the ROC with American assistance, at the center of the case. The indictments did not shed light on whether prosecutors in Taiwan seek to pursue charges against the unnamed Washington co-conspirators. The two Washington insiders most likely to be under investigation are TCG lobbyist Neil Hare, a registered Foreign Agent, and Shelley Hymes, a public relations consultant working with Hare. Both Hare and Hymes have stated they have not heard from ROC prosecutors and have no further comment. Hare and Hymes organized the Washington events in question and also accompanied TCG delegations on junkets to New York and Zurich. Hymes also was reimbursed by TCG for a trip to Taiwan in the summer of 2017.
While ROC prosecutors believe the Washington events were fraudulent in nature, they appear to be part of a genuine lobbying campaign to advance a political agenda. The case promises to explore the ways Washington works and the interplay between media, lobbyists, and politicians behind closed doors. Thus far the response about TCG lobbying from Washington insiders has been silence. The formal indictments are not likely to loosen any tongues as ROC prosecutors dance in a political minefield. Meanwhile, Roger and Julian remain locked up in pre-trial detention unable to give their side of the story.