Fri, Jan 07, 2000 - Page 12 News List

Soong's numbers just don't add up

Chen Po-chih

After an investigation into James Soong's (宋楚瑜) financial scandal, New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟?j) has not been able to prove that Soong was indeed commissioned by the KMT to manage all the sums of money involved in the affair.

However, even if Soong was commissioned by the KMT, his apparent bid to appropriate the money will make a dent in his professed moral integrity all the same -- and may even implicate him in a violation of the law.

Pro-Soong people are trying to assert his innocence by saying the money is still there and Soong intends to return it to the KMT.

Unfortunately, that argument appears anything but sensible given the financial details that have surfaced recently.

The Soongs have said that they withdrew NT$200 million in order to return it to the KMT.

However, this rationale does not bear up under close scrutiny.

If returning the money was their intention, they could have just remitted it instead of making a withdrawal.

If they had wanted to return the money after withdrawal, they could have written just one check.

Even if the Soongs were worried that the KMT might not accept any interest on the money (as Chen has asserted), they could have written a check for the principal and another for the interest.

They would not have needed to write more than 30 checks without designated payees -- checks that could be used for any purpose at any time.

Also, why did they delay returning the funds until they were caught?

Why did they first say the money was a donation from an "elder," and he had already taken the money back?

After all these explanations, to say that they intended to return the money does not make it sound like it was their intention to return it in the first place.

Even the amounts of money do not match -- between what the family said they would return to the KMT and the sum they said the party had originally entrusted to Soong.

Soong's explanation was that the KMT had commissioned him to undertake two tasks. The first was taking care of the Chiang () family. The second was doing what he termed "other party work."

He said he intends to terminate the latter, but wants to keep NT$47.98 million to take care of Chiang Ching-kuo's (蔣經國) widow.

However, the KMT set aside NT$100 million to take care of the Chiang family back in 1991.

According to Soong's figures, NT$82.5 million was expended in the first year and another NT$8.5 million was laid out between 1993 and 1999.

Therefore, the remainder should be in the area of NT$20 million (including interest) and not NT$47.98 million.

The fact that only NT$8.5 million was spent over a seven-year period would indicate that Soong does not need NT$47.98 million to take care of Chiang's widow.

Therefore, the Soongs would need to return much more than NT$200 million if they wanted to terminate the "other party work" entrusted to Soong.

This proves that the Soongs did not withdraw the NT$200 million in question with the intention of returning it to the KMT.

The explanations about returning NT$200 million and keeping NT$47.98 million for Chiang's widow, I am afraid, are merely stories made up after the scandal broke to fit the account figures.

Therefore, unless Hsieh and the Soongs can produce evidence to the contrary, the above figures are perhaps enough to conclude that Soong's initial intention was not to return the money.

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