In Memoriam: Jeffrey Koo
"He did indeed live a full life." by William Zarit, Minister for Commercial Affairs of U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China

"Sad though it is. He was a remarkable individual, with many friends." by Richard McCormack, former Under Secretary of State for Economic, business and Agricultural Affairs

"It is a very good tribute to one of Taiwan’s most important leaders." by Mark Jarvis

"Jeffrey was a legend!" by Terry Otis, President of Otis Associates, LLC

In Memoriam: Jeffrey Koo



Dear Council members, friends and colleagues,

Jeffrey Koo - one of Taiwan's richest, most prominent, and most colorful businessmen, who also played a major role in U.S.-Taiwan economic and business relations - sadly passed away Thursday, December 6 in New York City. Jeffrey was in New York at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for treatment, and he passed away surrounded by his wife, three sons, a daughter, and other family members. The family is returning him to Taiwan for a funeral and burial there.

Born in September 1933 in Taiwan during Japanese rule, he graduated from Soochow University in Taipei in 1957 with a B.A. degree in accounting. He then moved to New York, where he graduated from New York University in 1962 with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He returned to Taiwan and founded what is now the China Trust Commercial Bank with his uncle, Koo Chen-fu, in 1966. That was just the beginning of his long and illustrious business career in Taiwan. In 2008, Forbes ranked Jeffrey the sixth richest individual on the island, with a net worth of U.S. $2.8 billion.

Jeffrey also played a major role in the development of U.S.-Taiwan business relations, and he holds a number of awards from the U.S., Japan, and the Philippines for his international efforts. Jeffrey was also Chairman of the ROC-USA Business Council, our counterpart Council in Taiwan, for many years. There he provided a leadership role on US-Taiwan relations, and he spent decades helping to boost bilateral ties and the business relationship between the two countries. Jeffrey was a colorful figure, and a visit to his office - where the walls were covered with photos of him with world business and government leaders - was an experience.

Robert Parker, who sits on the Council’s Executive Committee and who was a long-time friend, noted that “Jeffrey Koo lived life to the full, and he made the world a better place. He created more jobs, enjoyed more friendships, excelled in more endeavors, and gave back more to his country and the society he lived in than a hundred ordinary men. I treasure the memory of our friendship and will miss him greatly.”

David Laux, previously President of the Council, said that “Jeffrey Koo did a lot to bring Taiwan into useful international connections and to promote their business possibilities. He introduced credit cards to Taiwan in 1974. He kept contacts up with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and was an advisor to three Taiwan Presidents: Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, and Ma Ying-jeou. Importantly, he advocated for and supported closer economic cooperation with China a key tenant of the administration of President Ma.”

Jeffrey’s contribution to the relationship between the United States and Taiwan is without peer. He represents a class of Taiwan patriot who built incredibly successful companies which were then used as platforms to build bridges with America and with other countries. While we will all mourn him, his family and friends can look back with immense pride at his legacy.

Sincerely yours,

Rupert Hammond-Chambers
US-Taiwan Business Council