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Ex-president and wife face more charges (update-1)

Ex-president and wife face more charges (update-1)

(Adds response from Chen Shui-bian's lawyer) Taipei, May 5 (CNA) Ex-President Chen Shui-bian and his wife Wu Shu-jen, who have been standing trial on charges of corruption and money laundering, on Tuesday were indicted on two more counts of corruption.
Prosecutors from the Special Investigation Division under the Supreme Prosecutors Office accused Chen and Wu of taking bribes of NT$310 million (US$9.47 million) from two local business tycoons.
One of them is Diana Chen, the former chairwoman of Taipei 101 tower; the other is Jeffrey Koo Jr., former vice chairman of the Chinatrust Financial Holding Co.
Prosecutors said in their indictment that Diana Chen delivered a check of NT$10 million under the name of a friend Chen Chin-wen to Wu Shu-jen's brother Wu Jin-mao in 2004.
The money, after being transferred among several overseas banks, eventually ended up in the account owned jointly by Chen Shui-bian's son Chen Chih-chung and his daughter-in-law Huang Rui-ching at a Swiss bank.
In return for the money, prosecutors said, Chen Shui-bian abused his power to press then-Finance Minister Lin Chuan to appoint Diana Chen as the chairwoman of the state-controlled Grand Cathay Securities Corp.
The then-finance minister named Diana Chen to head the Taipei 101 instead because of difficulties in convincing major stock holders of Grand Cathay to accept her at the time.
Furthermore, prosecutors said the former first couple had asked for political contributions from Jeffrey Koo Jr. since 2002 under the pretext that the money would be used to help finance Chen's election campaigns or the country's secret diplomatic activities.
Koo, who often visited the first family at their official residence at the time, had delivered NT$290 million in seven contributions to the first family.
Koo fled to Japan in 2007 after being probed for insider trading in an unrelated case and was asked by Chen Shui-bian for more contributions under the excuse of helping with the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party's unsuccessful 2008 presidential election, according to the indictment.
As a result, Koo made a donation of NT$10 million to Chen, for which the prosecutors said the ex-president and his wife should face a charge of exacting illegal profit.
Jeffrey Koo Jr. and Diana Chen were not charged in the case.
Cheng Wen-lung, a lawyer for the ex-first couple, dismissed the extra charges as prosecutors' attempts to keep Chen Shui-bian behind bars just as the court is scheduled to review on May 7 whether Chen should be released after being detained for five months.
"I am confident that their attempts will not succeed and neither of the two charges will stand in trial," Cheng said.
"Taipei 101 is owned by a private company beyond the authority of the president," Cheng said, adding that Koo admitted in a testimony to prosecutors that all his NT$300 million were political donations rather than bribes. The former first couple will be tried on the two new charges by the same panel of three judges at the Taipei District Court who are presiding over the trial of the couple for alleged corruption and money laundering.
Wu Shu-jen was first indicted on Nov. 3, 2006 for claiming reimbursement totalling NT$14.8 million from her husband's special state affairs funds with other people's invoices.
Chen Shui-bian was not indicted at the time because he was protected by presidential immunity, but after he left office in May 2008, he was charged along with his wife and 13 former aides, officials and family members for taking a total of NT$490 million in bribes during his eight years in office.
The money came to light thanks to an international anti-money laundering group which alerted Taiwanese authorities to the ex-first family's overseas bank accounts in 2008.
The case has mushroomed into a political scandal, as more local business tycoons were found to have made huge contributions to Chen allegedly in return for the ex-president's favors.
Chen Shui-bian has been detained since Dec. 30.
Prosecutors have not yet wrapped up a probe into his alleged abuse of power while in office.
Chen Shui-bian has insisted he is innocent and that the money involved were simply campaign contributions which he is allowed to keep under Taiwanese law. He has said he was not aware of his wife allegedly accepting any bribes.
The ex-president has called his prosecution a political witch hunt to punish him for angering China with his moves to push for Taiwan independence while he was in office from 2000 to 2008. He has alleged that other officials who have misspent funds or taken bribes have not been prosecuted.
Ruling party and government officials have denied his claims.
(By Maubo Chang) .





Updated : 2021-02-28 02:11 GMT+08:00