Green legislator says tax probes must be carried out legally

Green legislator says tax probes must be carried out legally

The National Audit Office (NAO) has disclosed that it sent personnel to National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) recently to take a look at the balance of payments in the hospital’s controversial MG149 account, its 402 account and other 400-series accounts. Li Shun-bao, a spokesperson for the NAO, said Wednesday that its personnel are checking the full range of 400 accounts at NTUH, and if everything is set up and functioning in accordance with the NTUH accounting system there should be no problem of illegality.

With attention in political circles and the media focused on the MG149 account used by non-aligned candidate for Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je Ko at NTUH, Blue legislators have called repeatedly for NAO to inspect the hospital’s 402 and MG149 accounts. The legislators, led by Luo Shu-lei, say they want to know for certain whether suppliers for the hospital were involved in illegal donations.

Li told the Finance Committee of the Legislative Yuan Wednesday, "We are checking the set-up and balance of payments for the hospital’s 400 series accounts, in a comprehensive look which will naturally include the MG149 and 402 accounts."

Asked later by reporters if it is legal to deposit donations from suppliers in the 402 account, Li replied that the NTUH 402 account is basically a complete accounting system, and if the accounting system is run in accordance with that of NTUH, there should be no problems with legality.

Li added that NAO has submitted a request to Ko Wen-je to furnish vouchers and documentation related to payments for speaking engagements and other sources of income. He said NAO is following a set plan in its investigation but so far has not contacted any other agencies such as the National Tax Administration (NTA) to collect data.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Tuesday that the NTA cannot investigate the financial affairs of Ko Wen-je unless it is requested to do so by a public prosecutor, and on Wednesday DPP legislator Li Ying-yuan explained that according to page 13 of the Operating Guidelines for Tax Authorities at All Levels published by the Ministry of Finance, prosecutors must provide factual and readily available evidence of specific acts of tax evasion within ten days of making such a request, otherwise NTA is not authorized to conduct an investigation.

Premier Jiang responded to a question from DPP legislator Chao Tian-lin Tuesday by saying that "if someone files a complaint they will follow up on it,” implying that just because someone made a request NTA sent a letter to Ko Wen-je and aides in his campaign asking for certain information.

On Wednesday Li Ying-yuan disputed Jiang’s statement, claiming that the NTA’s order for a check on Ko Wen-je's tax records was a clear violation of regulations.

Li pointed out that all documents and information submitted by prosecutors should include the name and office address of the prosecutor, the name and address of the person whose records are to be checked and company information if applicable, and a detailed list of facts on hand which point to tax evasion or other illegal behavior.

Li said that the NTA’s action in requesting documents from Ko Wen-je is clearly a result of pressure exerted by the KMT. Li said that the Tax Collection Act requires prosecutors to provide specific information in accordance with regulations, and urged the NTA to follow all relevant guidelines. He said prosecutors must provide clear and solid evidence of malfeasance, otherwise calling for the NTA to check the tax records of Ko and his associates is nothing more than political thuggery.

Updated : 2021-02-26 20:39 GMT+08:00