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Taiwan prosecutors add corruption charges against ex-President Chen Shui-bian

Taiwan prosecutors add corruption charges against ex-President Chen Shui-bian

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Prosecutors indicted ex-President Chen Shui-bian and his wife Wu Shu-jen Tuesday for accepting bribes from a tycoon and a prominent businesswoman in a second round of charges involving a total of NT$310 million.
Chen, Wu and about a dozen of close relatives, family friends, former close aides and retired government officials are already on trial for the alleged misuse of special presidential funds, corruption surrounding a land deal and a construction contract, and money laundering, for which they were indicted last December 12. The charges could be punishable with life in prison.
The new indictments were expected to affect this coming Thursday’s hearing on whether Chen’s detention should be extended. The ex-President has been staying in custody as a suspect since December 30. He has proclaimed his innocence, saying he was not aware of the alleged corruption scandals, while the money transferred overseas consisted of political donations and leftovers from his election campaigns.
According to the new charges, Chen and Wu extorted bribes worth NT$290 million from Chinatrust Financial Holding Vice Chairman Jeffrey Koo Junior over a total of seven times from 2002 to 2005. Chen originally asked Koo for financial assistance with his election campaigns, and later requested funding in support of Taiwan’s diplomatic efforts. Later, Wu asked for money during frequent meetings with Koo at the presidential residence, prosecutors said.
Chen then asked for and received a further NT$10 million from Koo in 2007 and 2008, according to prosecutors.
Asking Koo to pay the money was punishable by a minimum prison sentence of five years, while failing to set up a special account to receive political donations could result in a jail sentence of up to three years, reports said.
The tycoon, a member of one of Taiwan’s most prominent business dynasties, was listed as a witness in the case, not as a defendant. He escaped charges because he was a victim in the case, said Chen Yun-nan, the spokesman for Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigation Division investigating the cases.
Chen and Wu were also indicted for accepting NT$10 million from former Taipei 101 Chairwoman Diana Chen. The minimum sentence for the charge was seven years in prison, reports said.
She claimed she gave Wu the amount in checks as a political contribution to pass on to the Democratic Progressive Party, while reports said she was paying Wu to obtain the job of chairwoman at Ta Hwa Securities after losing a power struggle for the position of president at China Development Financial Holdings.
Attempts to pressure then-Finance Minister Lin Chuan into appointing Chen at Ta Hwa failed, so she ended up as chairwoman of Taipei 101 instead, reports said. She resigned from the management of the world’s tallest occupied building earlier this year after criticism from lawmakers over her performance and her involvement in the scandals surrounding the former First Family.
The checks she gave to Wu were converted to cash and moved first to an account held by Wu’s brother in Singapore and later to a Swiss account held by the ex-President’s son Chen Chih-chung and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching.
Another case, involving an alleged NT$740 million moved out of a safe deposit box rented by Wu, will be handled later, media reports said.
The new indictments were expected to influence a session of the Taipei District Court Thursday to decide on whether the ex-President’s detention should be extended.
Chen’s attorneys said the new charges would not stand, but might have been especially timed to occur just days ahead of the decision on Chen’s custody.
The latest indictments were a continuation of the prosecutors’ political persecution of the former president, said DPP lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang.


Updated : 2021-04-21 06:15 GMT+08:00