Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Impropriety in Tung Ting Gas deal denied

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government yesterday flatly denied a newspaper report that Tung Ting Gas Corp's(東鼎瓦斯) acquisition of a piece of coastal land in 2001 for NT$1 billion was handled illegally.

"The land was priced was NT$1,450 per ping, not the NT$200 or NT$300 per ping mentioned in the report," Lee Ruey-tsang (李瑞倉), director-general of the National Property Bureau under the ministry of finance, said angrily at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

According to the report in a Chinese-language newspaper, Tung Ting allegedly paid off government officials in order to buy 230 hectares of land along the coast of Kuantang, Taoyuan County, for NT$1 billion to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal.

Prosecutors have begun a probe into the land purchase.

Lee defended the three staffers who handled the deal, saying they had done nothing wrong. He insisted that all the legal requirements had been met and that no irregularities had been found in the deal.

Lee said that the bureau had taken great pains to look into the prices of Taoyuan County farmland near the 230-hectare plot to come up with a reasonable price.

"My staff should be complemented since they turned a worthless piece of land under water into a NT$1 billion deal for the government's coffers," Lee said.

He urged the media to clear names of the staffers and not to make groundless accusations.

Reporters, however, asked Lee whether the land should have been sold in the first place since the Land Law (土地法) stipulates that certain coastal land can only be leased to the private sector, not sold.

Lee said that the land was not within the coastal area zoned as off-limits by the Taoyuan County Govern-ment, but that the county government had given its approval for sale.

The newspaper report said Tung Ting has also been accused of bribing political parties and government officials while bidding for a NT$400 billion gas contract with state-owned Taiwan Power Co's (台電) Tatan natural gas power plant, as well as other industrial park projects.

The report said former Tung Ting chairmen including Lee Rei-yu (李瑞玉) were summoned by pro-secutors for questioning, while chairman Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪) has fled to China.

The report said prosecutors may summon Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英), former chairman of the China Development Financial Holding Corp (中華開發金控), for questioning about his connection with the land sale.

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