Ex-lawmaker Diane Lee sentenced to two years over U.S. nationality

Former Kuomintang lawmaker Diane Lee was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday for fraud and forgery in her case of illegal double nationality.
According to Taiwanese law, elected politicians must renounce any foreign nationality before taking office and deliver proof of that change within a year. Lee claimed her United States citizenship had automatically become void when she first took office as a member of the Taipei City Council in 1994.
The Taipei District Court did not accept her arguments and sentenced her to two years in prison. The judge found her guilty of hiding her foreign citizenship during four consecutive terms as an elected official and of embezzling NT$127.77 million, the total of the salaries she received as Taipei City Councilor and later as legislator, reports said.
However, the court was not demanding Lee return the money because it did not find her guilty of corruption. The Taipei City Council and the Legislative Yuan could file suits to demand compensation from Lee once no appeals against the verdicts in her case were possible, reports said.
Lee was reportedly not present for the verdict, but her attorney said he would file an appeal. "She never intended to hide her double citizenship," Chuang Hsiu-ming told reporters after the verdict, adding she was only guilty of misunderstanding U.S. citizenship rules.
The ball started rolling when lawmakers from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party went to prosecutors in March 2008 with the accusation that Lee had never renounced her U.S. passport. They also demanded she pay back the total amount of her wages she received during her period in office.
For months, she denied the allegations, saying an investigation by the U.S. State Department would confirm her story.