Prosecutors raided three houses belonging to former Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) Director Yeh Sheng-mao late Thursday in a probe into the alleged concealment of documents related to suspected money laundering by the former first family.
Prosecutors searched Yeh's homes in Taipei City and Taoyuan County for documents regarding a report received by the MJIB's Money Laundering Prevention Center in January that said the daughter-in-law of then-President Chen Shui-bian maintained a bank account in the Cayman Islands.
The report was passed on to Taiwan by the Egmont Group -- an international anti-money laundering organization -- of which the MJIB is a member.
However, the local prosecutorial authorities were not made aware of the information until the Swiss authorities approached Taiwan recently for assistance in probes into suspected money laundering in Switzerland by Chen's daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching.
Yeh, who retired from the top MJIB post after the inauguration of the Kuomintang government in May, admitted last weekend that he did not deliver any formal documents concerning the sensitive information to the prosecution before his retirement because of what he claimed was his "personal negligence."
Yeh, who is one of the former president's proteges, claimed that he made an oral report to State Public Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming in early February -- a claim that the prosecutor-general strongly denied.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) directed the Taipei Prosecutors Office early this week to investigate who should be held accountable for withholding the critical intelligence.
On Thursday, the prosecution summoned Chou You-yi, director of the MJIB's Money Laundering Prevention Center for questioning. Chou was quoted as having told prosecutors that the center had documented the intelligence from the Egmont Group and passed it to Yeh in the form of an official file.
In March, Chou said, he again asked Yeh whether he had forwarded the information to the prosecution. "Yeh told me at the time that he had forwarded the document to the state public prosecutor-general, " Chou told prosecutors.
In Thursday's raids on Yeh's three homes, prosecutors reportedly did not discover any of the official records or documents in question.
While searching Yeh's residence in Taipei's suburban Muzha district, prosecutors reportedly questioned some of Yeh's family members and scrutinized community security monitoring videos in an effort to verify a recent report about Yeh hiring a truck to move cases of articles out of his home there.
Yeh did not come home until after the prosecutors had concluded their search. Lin Chin-tsun, a spokesman for the prosecutors office, was tight-lipped on the issue and declined to brief the press on the latest prosecutorial operations on the grounds that the case is still being investigated in accordance with the law.
Anonymous prosecutorial sources said they suspect the critical documents might have been destroyed. Prosecutors are scheduled to summon Yeh for further questioning in the coming days, the sources added.
Yeh has been listed as a person whose movements require monitoring and whose entries into or departures from Taiwan must be immediately reported because of his suspected concealment of information.