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Taiwan's People First Party defend founder Soong, rebuke corruption allegations

Party says ‘Suisse secrets’ leak cites totally inaccurate media sources

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James Soong.

James Soong. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The People First Party (PFP) has rejected the corruption allegations surrounding its founder and Chair James Soong (宋楚瑜) after journalists released a report claiming he deposited 13.67 million Swiss francs (NT$415 million) in a Swiss bank account during the 1990s and 2000s.

The PFP claims the information provided about Soong’s account is completely inaccurate and that it has evidence to disprove it, per a UDN.

Soong’s name appeared in the “Suisse Secrets” data leak earlier in the week. Released by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), it includes details of about 30,000 Credit Suisse clients, including dozens of alleged corrupt government officials, criminals, and human rights abusers, per the OCCRP.

The OCCRP website states Taiwan’s main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT), had previously accused Soong of embezzling millions from party coffers and also mentions accusations by a former French foreign minister that Soong received kickbacks from a 1991 Taiwan Navy procurement deal on Lafayette-class frigates, which was formalized while he was secretary-general of the KMT.

The PFP claimed Soong was not involved in the commissioning of the Lafayette frigates at all. The party said there was speculation about this in foreign media as early as 2003, but even then Soong was not implicated.

As for the claims of embezzling party funds that arose during the 2000 general election, the PFP said a detailed judicial investigation had already proved Soong's innocence. The PFP said the contents of the allegations are inaccurate and that the news sources cited had no credibility.

The PFP said the quote the website attributed to former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas that said NT$400 million was paid to the KMT chief was more "utter nonsense."

The party cited a 2003 news article by CNA that had mistakenly translated the French term for the KMT’s secretariat as secretary-general” (denoting Soong). The PFP claimed CNA acknowledged the error and amended the article at the time.

The PFP warned that in the future if individuals or members of the press accuse Soong of embezzling public funds or being involved in the Lafayette scandal, the party will defend itsrights and interests and seek legal compensation for damage done to Soong's reputation.