Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Taiwan Presidential Candidate Ma Acquitted of Fraud

Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Ma Ying-jeou, the presidential candidate of Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang, was cleared by a Taipei District Court today of fraud charges that could have derailed his campaign for the March 2008 election.

Judge Tsai Shou-hsun announced the decision, which the prosecution can appeal, at 10 a.m. local time. Taiwan's stock market reversed earlier declines within 3 minutes of the announcement before closing lower.

Ma, 57, charged with misusing NT$11.2 million ($339,743) of city funds while he was Taipei mayor, faced disqualification from the presidential race if convicted. He has pledged to focus on the economy and improve ties with China if elected and leads the ruling party's candidate, Frank Hsieh, by 13 percentage points, a United Daily News poll said yesterday.

``The verdict puts an end to one major political uncertainty in Taiwan's stock market,'' said Dennes Chang, who helps manage $2.5 billion at Jih Sun Securities Investment Trust Co. in Taipei. ``The outcome allows investors to refocus their attention on corporate earnings rather than political issues.''

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