Taiwan prosecutors raid legislative offices in connection with Sogo scandal

Six lawmakers and former legislators investigated over bribery allegations

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Investigators leaving a legislative office with documents 

Investigators leaving a legislative office with documents  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Prosecutors raided the offices of four legislators and two former lawmakers Friday (July 31), reportedly in connection with bribery allegations related to a past struggle for control over the Sogo department stores.

Politicians from four political groups had been targeted for searches or questioning, CNA reported, after allegations that a businessman surnamed Lee (李) had paid them off to help him gain control over Sogo in a power struggle going back almost two decades.

News reports named the politicians as Kuomintang (KMT) members Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), independent Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇), and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清). Former Foreign Minister Mark Chen (陳唐山), who once served as a DPP lawmaker, and former New Power Party Chairman Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) were also wanted for questioning, the report said.

The raids started at 6:45 a.m. when agents entered Chen Chao-ming’s official residence in Miaoli County armed with a warrant, according to CNA. His son was also there, but once the politician was alerted to the case, he voluntarily went to Taipei by noon.

More than 65 homes and offices across the country were raided, with investigators entering the Legislative Yuan building, reports said. The raids involved more than 230 prosecutors and other government agents, who reportedly found NT$9.2 million (US$313,000) in cash.

The legislators named in the allegations were accused of using their influence to pressure the Ministry of Economic Affairs to help Lee regain control of Sogo, the Liberty Times reported.

Sogo became the focus of a power struggle when the original manager, the Pacific Group, encountered financial difficulties, with ownership changing hands in 2002 in a procedure which became the focus of litigation for years afterward. Lee Heng-lung (李恆隆), chairman of Pacific Distribution Investment Co., took control and eventually sold the department store chain to Far Eastern Group, which still owns it today.