Taipei, April 18 (CNA) A women's group set up by former first lady Soong Mei-ling (宋美齡) collected a total of more than NT$24 billion (US$790.66 million) in "patriotic donations" over a 34-year period, according to an investigation by an Executive Yuan committee.
The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee said that if interest and inflation are factored in, the donations collected by the National Women's League of the Republic of China (婦聯會) would have been worth NT$349.8 billion in 2016 Taiwan dollars.
The committee is set to hold its first hearing on April 27 to determine whether the league is affiliated to the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).
The report said the Women's League and the Friends of Armed Forces Association (軍友社) started to collect "donations for the military" in 1955 through surcharges on imported components and goods by manufacturers as well as importers and exporters.
The surcharge was NT$0.5 for every US$1 worth of imports when the program was launched and was later cut to NT$0.3 on Nov. 13, 1981, NT$0.2 on May 1, 1987 and NT$0.1 on Aug. 1 1988 before being eliminated.
Two-thirds of the money collected went to the Women's League, while the remainder went to the Friends of Armed Forces Association.
The committee said that based on its calculations, it estimated that the women's league collected around NT$24.03 billion.
According to the report, the Women's League said the money collected was used to boost the military's morale and build dormitories for the families of the soldiers.
Some of the money also went to the Chinese National Federation of Industries, the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei, the Kaohsiung City Chamber of Commerce, and the Taiwan Importer and Exporter Chamber of Commerce for general expenses.
The Women's League has come under the microscope because of allegations that it illegally profited from close ties to the KMT and the KMT-led government in Taiwan.
After it was targeted as a possible KMT-affiliated organization, the group said in February it would donate NT$28 billion of its total assets, which are valued at NT$38.1 billion, to social welfare causes.
The Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee was set up in August 2016 based on the Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and their Affiliated Organizations. The statute was enacted by the DPP-dominated Legislative Yuan in July that same year.
Under the law, most of the KMT's properties have been frozen pending investigations by the committee into the assets held by the veteran political party. If the assets are determined to be "ill-gotten," they will be transferred to the state or returned to their rightful owners.
(By Ku Chuan and Lilian Wu)