Sat, Jul 16, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Lee indictment is as hollow as Ma

By Lin Cho-shui 林濁水

However, the prosecutors’ office in Lee’s indictment starts off by saying that it was former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) financier Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英) who reported to Lee and asked for his approval, following the example of Japan’s Nomura Research Institute. It alleges that the NSC only decided to set up an autonomous think tank after the consolidation fund case came to light, allowing Lee, who “knew that he had broken the law,” to “absolve himself.”

Although Lee started working in an office in the Taiwan Research Institute after he stepped down as president, he paid rent. The indictment omits this fact, while working on the assumption that the institute was set up so that Lee could use it after he stepped down.

From the point of view of criminal law, the consolidation fund case concluded with a not-guilty verdict, but the court did identify serious administrative irregularities in the way the fund was handled, such as the fact that no invoices were filled out for expenditure as applications for reimbursement were submitted orally.

Unfortunately, this kind of irregularity is commonplace in intelligence work, which often involves doing things for the sake of national security that are illegal under the Criminal Code. That is why the US used to have a rule that heads of intelligence agencies could act beyond the bounds of existing laws when directing intelligence duties. The National Intelligence Services Act (國家情報工作法) also offers immunity from prosecution for certain intelligence activities, and many of its articles are ambiguous.

The National Intelligence Services Act became law relatively recently, in 2003, prior to which the government’s intelligence activities were often conducted as leaders saw fit, without legal regulation.

During the presidencies of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), intelligence activities were not subject to normal budget regulations, so considerable sums of money earmarked for intelligence purposes did not have to be paid into the national treasury.

This money was in effect a private slush fund and that is where the diplomatic relations consolidation fund originated. Lee did not approve of the way his predecessors handled this money, so when he became president he made it an official fund. When Chen took over from Lee, he thought that the way Lee had handled the money was still incorrect, and this issue caused strife between the two.

After the case of irregularities involving Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍), who was chief of the bursary section in the NSB’s General Service Office, came to light, then-bureau director-general Yin Tsung-wen (殷宗文) and Hsu asked Lee to sign invoices to fend off media accusations of unlawful spending, but Lee refused.

During Hsu’s trial, the judges discovered that applications for expenditure reimbursements for intelligence purposes were also made orally. The consolidation fund was not an isolated case in this respect as the practice was widespread in relation to covert operations. This was another reason why Hsu was acquitted. Conversely, the prosecutors’ office now has a different interpretation of Yin’s handling of the affair, taking the view that Lee knew he had broken the law and was trying to cover his tracks.

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