SMIC founder fined $1m for breaking law on hi-tech investment in the mainland The Taiwanese government has said it will freeze the assets of Richard Chang Ru-gin, the founder and chief executive of Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), for allegedly contravening the island's laws restricting investment on the mainland. Bloomberg yesterday reported the Investment Commission under Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs would freeze Mr Chang's assets on the island after he refused to pay a NT$5 million ($1.16 million) fine and withdraw his semiconductor investments on the mainland. Taiwan's law bars its citizens from making high-technology investments on the mainland without approval. Investment Commission executive secretary Huang Chin-tan was quoted as saying the fine would increase by NT$5 million for every six months that Mr Chang refused to comply. The commission did not say what Mr Chang's Taiwan assets were worth. Calvin Chang, a spokesman for Taiwan's economics ministry in Hong Kong, refused to comment. In an interview with the South China Morning Post last month, Richard Chang, who was born in Taiwan, said he would not pay the fine because he was a naturalised United States citizen. 'More than 20 years ago I became a US citizen. On that day I gave up Taiwan citizenship,' he said. In 1990, he returned to Taiwan to build semiconductor plants for Texas Instruments. His application for a resident's visa was denied because he had previously lived in Taiwan, he said. Instead, officials told Mr Chang he must renew his household registration. 'It's different from citizenship,' he said. The Taiwan government - fearful that the island is losing its bread-and-butter semiconductor business to the mainland - has sought to block Taiwanese from investing in the mainland. SMIC was founded in 2000 and is the third-largest contract chipmaker basis after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and United Microelectronics Corp, both based in Taiwan. 'Certain people in the current Taiwan government don't like to see what we are doing, to help China's semiconductor industry,' Mr Chang said, adding he had not visited the island in four years. 'If we do not want to pay the fine, they can put a lot of restrictions on me. 'I cannot visit Taiwan. I cannot visit many friends, I cannot see my hometown.' Mr Chang hoped his troubles would be over by 2008, when Taiwan will hold its next presidential election. 'Many good friends try to comfort me, they say: 'Richard, just wait for another 2? years. Things may change in Taiwan and the whole thing may become much more friendly,'' he said.