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[R.I.P.] Henry Hwang - Far East Bank Founder / Plus Additional Comments

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  • madchinaman
    Asian American Bank Founder Dies http://www.hyphenmagazine.com/blog/archives/2005/10/asian_american_4. html Henry Hwang, founder of the first Asian American
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2006
      Asian American Bank Founder Dies

      Henry Hwang, founder of the first Asian American bank (and father of
      playwright David Henry Hwang) passed away last Saturday at the age
      of 77. His story is the stuff of immigrant fairytales: arrive in the
      U.S. with nothing but a few bucks, toil away in a Chinese
      laundromat, get a CPA, start a bank, and eventually sell it for 90
      million big ones. No wonder he was a big Republican supporter and
      Reagan crony.


      Re: My father being a "big Republican supporter and Reagan crony."
      He also co-chaired "Republicans for Clinton" in the 90's, and
      eventually came to feel that Republicans were generally insensitive
      to Asians and other minorities. Towards the end of his life, he
      strongly opposed the Presidency of George W. Bush, particularly the
      Iraq War. The last Presidential vote of my father's life was for
      John Kerry.
      David Henry Hwang


      October 13, 2005
      Henry Y. Hwang Dies at 77; Founded Asian-American Bank

      Henry Y. Hwang, who founded the first Asian-American-owned federally
      chartered bank in the continental United States, died Saturday at
      his home in San Marino, Calif. He was 77.

      The cause was colon cancer, his son, the playwright David Henry
      Hwang, said.

      Mr. Hwang (pronounced wong) arrived in the United States at 21,
      speaking virtually no English. He later owned a laundry, became a
      certified public accountant and began one of the first accounting
      firms in Southern California owned by a Chinese immigrant.

      In 1974, he opened the Far East National Bank with $1.5 million in
      capital and a single office in the Chinatown section of Los Angeles.

      The bank was later publicly traded, and its assets exceeded $500
      million in 1996, the year before it was bought by Bank Sino-Pac of
      Taiwan for about $90 million.

      Mr. Hwang became an active investor in China. He was also a leading
      Republican Party supporter, and in 1984, President Reagan appointed
      him to the White House Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations.

      Henry Yuan Hwang was born in Shanghai on Nov. 28, 1927. At 21, he
      left Shanghai just as the Communists were preparing to take over the
      city and went to Oregon.

      He had already earned a bachelor's degree in political science in
      China and earned another at Linfield College in Oregon.

      He then studied accounting at the University of Southern California
      and operated a laundry business. In 1960, he opened his accounting
      firm. California Business magazine said that Mr. Hwang became adept
      at building and manipulating personal connections to gain ground in
      the Asian immigrant community. He gradually extended this activity
      to China itself.

      "I don't like Communism," he told the magazine, "but I see a lot of
      business opportunities in China."

      In 1999, some of these transactions with Chinese banks drew the
      attention of American regulators as possible sources of illegal
      campaign contributions or funds for Chinese espionage, among other
      possibilities. No charges were brought, and no regulatory actions
      were taken.

      In 1989, Mr. Hwang was at the center of a major scandal in Los
      Angeles when it was disclosed that he had hired Tom Bradley, then
      the mayor, as a consultant. Mr. Bradley had also received a loan
      from the bank and appeared to have helped it secure $2 million in
      deposits of city funds.

      Mr. Bradley resigned from the consultancy, returned his $18,000 in
      payments and was never charged with wrongdoing.

      In 1976, Mr. Hwang told the police he had been abducted, made to
      drink a liquid that disoriented him and robbed of $300,000. The
      bizarre case was never solved.

      In addition to his son, Mr. Hwang is survived by his wife of 50
      years, the former Dorothy Huang; his daughters, Margery Anne Hwang
      of Rochester, and Grace Elizabeth Hwang of West Hollywood, Calif.;
      two brothers; two sisters; and four grandchildren.
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