Sat, Jan 01, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Control Yuan to probe Soong case

FINANCE SCANDAL The independent presidential candidate is to be investigated for breaching campaign finance laws and the so-called `Sunshine Law'

By Lauren Chen and Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Control Yuan yesterday established a task force to investigate independent presidential candidate James Song (宋楚瑜) over possible violation of the Election and Recall Law (公職人員選罷免法) and the Public Functionary Assets Disclo-sure Law (公職人員財產申報法).

The task force consisting of Lee Shen-yi (李伸一), Chao Ron-jaw (趙榮耀), Ma Yi-kung (馬以工), Lin Shih-chi (林時機) and Chang Fu-mai (張富美) was set up after the 21-member government watchdog body questioned Minister of Finance Paul Chiu (邱正雄) over the finding of an investigation by his ministry into the financial affairs of Soong and his family.

The MOF investigation was triggered by revelations by a KMT legislator of financial irregularities concerning Song's family's accounts during the time Soong was the KMT's secretary-general in the early 1990s. Soong has been widely suspected of pocketing KMT funds during this period.

New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大), who has spent the last week in an independent investigation of the Soong family's accounts said yesterday that according to her findings Soong was innocent of misappropriating KMT funds but, ironically -- since Hsieh has widely been considered sympathetic to the Soong camp -- conceded that there was evidence to suggest that Soong had violated the two laws cited by the finance ministry.

After Soong's election campaign for the now-defunct post of Taiwan provincial governor in 1994, he filed a declaration of election expenditure amounting to exactly the NT$104.98 million the Election and Recall Law allows.

Hsieh's investigation has, however, produced evidence that suggests Song received over NT$438 million in donations for the campaign, out of which he spent NT$150 million in total.

Soong is also being investigated for violation of the Public Functionary Assets Disclosure Law, under which high-ranking officials and elected representatives must list their financial assets as a precaution against bribe-taking. According to documents held by the Control Yuan, Soong has declared less than NT$10 million in assets. But the Soong camp admits having remitted US$1.9 million (NT$60 million) to the US for personal travel expenses.

The finance ministry said nothing yesterday about the wider issues of the scandal surrounding Soong, such as NT$140 million deposited in an account at the Chung Hsing Bills Finance Corp. (中興票券) in the name of his son, Soong Cheng-yuan (宋鎮遠).

Soong has claimed that this and other monies were entrusted to him by President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), both to take care of the family of the late President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) and other special party-related activities.

Two members of Hsieh's team, lawyer Lee Chi-cheng (李志澄) and Tsai Yu-ling (蔡玉玲) said that they thought there was some truth to the so-called "trust" connection between the KMT and Soong.

"Since Soong and the KMT had once had such an arrangement, the KMT is groundless to accuse Soong of forging documents, illegally taking over the party's property, or being involved in treach-ery,'' said Lee.

The KMT, including President Lee, has sternly denied that Soong was ever asked to hold monies in private accounts for such purposes and has accused Soong of stealing party funds.

Yesterday Presidential Office spokesman Ting Yuan-chao (丁遠超) challenged Hsieh's conclusions.

"Soong has apparently mixed up the KMT's money with his own private funds. I wonder either Hsieh or Soong have any formal documents to prove such an arrangement actually existed," Ting said.

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