Fri, Jan 21, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Soong riled by rumors of Waikiki property deal

STAFF WRITER

Questions over the finances of independent presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) continued to mount yesterday amid allegations he had bought a prime piece of real estate in Hawaii with money previously remitted to the US.

The Taipei Times' sister newspaper, the Liberty Times, yesterday quoted unnamed investigators as saying that Soong owns a luxurious apartment on Hawaii's Oahu island.

Taiwanese residents in Hawaii were quoted in the report as saying Soong is known to have an apartment in the Nauru Tower on Oahu's Alamona Boulevard, located near the famous Waikiki seaside resort.

The report added that the cheapest apartments in the Nauru Tower go for around US$800,000 each.

After reports that former deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Provincial Government, Ma Chieh-ming (馬傑明) had helped Soong remit at least NT$100 million to the US, the total estimate of Soong's overseas remittances now stands at around NT$300 million.

Soong offered a partial denial of the accusations yesterday, saying neither he, his wife nor his son own any apartments in Hawaii.

Speaking in front of the Chaotien Temple (朝天宮) in Peikang yesterday, Soong fingered vice finance minister Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章) as the man behind the rumors, saying he had been "instructing investigators on how to spread them."

Soong also challenged Yen to come out with concrete evidence and vowed to sue either him or the Liberty Times over the report.

However, Yen yesterday denied any involvement in the spreading of the rumors.

The ministry did not yet have any firm information on Soong's overseas properties and thus no leak by any ministry official was possible, Yen said.

Soong's financial advisor, sister-in-law Chen Pi-yun (陳碧雲), also denied that the Soong family owns any property in Hawaii.

Chief prosecutor Hung Wen-tai (洪文泰), who is handling Soong's case, declined to comment on any possible wrongdoing with the money remitted to the US.

Meanwhile, officials at the Control Yuan said they plan to summon key witnesses, including Soong himself, for questioning next week.

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