Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Secret deals cast a long shadow over judiciary

By Lin Chien-cheng 林健正

One of the main reasons the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost power in the 2000 election was corruption and “black gold” politics.

This “black gold” basically consisted of questionable relations between the KMT and businesses. This year, questionable relations between politics and business led to the jailing of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

However, the investigation into Chen’s alleged money laundering by the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) has revealed another questionable type of relationship between the government and business world that has made the public lose trust in the judicial system.

The SIP summoned former Chinatrust Financial Holding Co vice chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) back to Taiwan from Japan. Prosecutors first went to Japan, where Koo has been on the run for two years, to meet him in secret. Koo then decided to return home to face questioning. Media reports said Koo’s confession was in line with what the SIP was looking for.

Despite being a fugitive for two years, Koo surprisingly was not detained, had no restrictions placed on where he could live or on traveling outside the country. This clearly shows that Koo and the SIP made a deal before he returned home.

It is hard to know exactly what agreements were reached but the SIP obviously made huge sacrifices in terms of judicial fairness.

What we can be certain of is that more examples of injustice and secret dealings will become apparent in the handling and prosecution of Chen and Koo.

So far the SIP has taken over all six criminal cases involving Koo, giving it complete control of the investigations and a lot of bargaining chips when dealing with the Koo family.

But since the SIP conducted a secret meeting with a wanted criminal in Japan, it may find itself in a dilemma during future investigations and prosecutions. It will also be hard for it to regain the public’s trust.

The SIP not only sent a prosecutor to meet a wanted criminal and make an under-the-table deal for his return, it also asked for a NT$100 million (US$3 million) bail deal from the court to cover up the agreement.

This highlights the exchange of interests and a special relationship between the government and the business world, even though this time around the prosecutors are doing the Koo family a favor.

When Koo returned to Taiwan, his father, Chinatrust Financial Holding Co chairman Jeffrey Koo (辜濂松), just happened to be in Peru accompanying former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) at the APEC summit.

This clearly shows the relationship the government and the business world have formed since President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government came to power.

Lin Chien-cheng is a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at National Chiao Tung University.

TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON AND EDDY CHANG

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