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United Daily News: Power corrupts 'immediately'

United Daily News: Power corrupts 'immediately'

Taiwan editorial abstract (File 3 of a daily roundup) Prosecutors recently indicted 22 people, including former President Chen Shui-bian, his wife, five family members and 15 others after concluding its probe into the controversial financial reforms initiated by Chen.
The indictment against Chen accused the former president of receiving bribes from a business tycoon to help him lay his hands on KMT assets, just as Chen was campaigning against the ill-gotten KMT assets of the Kuomintang during his re-election bid in late 2003.
The Yuanta Group headed by Rudy Ma wanted to buy KMT-owned China Investment Corp., because the latter controlled Fuhwa Financial Holdings, which Yuanta coveted to help it expand.
Yuanta first approached Chen by donating NT$20 million to his re-election campaign. After Chen won re-election, Ma visited the former president to inquire if he could buy China Investment Corp.
but was told to gain control of the company by buying China Investment shares on the stock exchange.
That strategy, however, would have pushed up the price of China Investment shares, which Yuanta did not want.
Yuanta then planted an "industrial spy" in China Investment to remain informed on the KMT's attempt to sell the company to another business group headed by the Koo family.
After learning that the Koo family was about to strike a deal with Fuhwa, Ma sent an envoy to the presidential residence to directly seek Chen's support, and former first lady Wu Shu-jen then asked for NT$200 million to help him clinch the deal.
One might ask if Chen only became corrupt after his first term, but that is not the case. When Chen first became president, he asked for money from Tsai Hong-tu of Cathay Financial Holdings. Tsai paid NT$400 million over four years, which helped him beat a strong rival to acquire a major bank.
For Chen, the mantra "power corrupts" should be revised to "power corrupts immediately." (By Lilian Wu)