Mon, Jan 24, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Construction chief details campaign payments to Soong

STAFF WRITER

Liang Po-hsun (梁柏薰), chairman of the Hsinchiehchung Construction Company (新偕中建設), yesterday admitted that he gave independent presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) NT$80 million during the 1992 legislative election, the Chinese-language media reported.

Liang told local reporters that Soong, as the KMT's former secretary-general, came to him to help with fundraising for the party at the end of 1992.

Liang said he first gave Soong two checks totaling NT$50 million and asked him to transfer the money to over 20 candidates nominated by the party.

When Soong approached him later for more funds, Liang says he gave Soong another check for NT$30 million.

Liang confirmed that NT$30 million of his money went to what Soong called a "special account for the KMT's secretary-general (秘書長專戶)."

Liang speculated that some of legislative candidate Kuo Cheng-yi's (郭政一) campaign funds that year came from the first NT$50 million he had given to Soong.

Liang said he used to donate around NT$100 million each election and he had given funds to many political figures, including NT$1.5 million to former Kaohsiung mayor Wu Tun-yi (吳敦義).

Soong's close relations with Liang were once questioned by provincial assemblymen as banks run by the Taiwan Provincial Government had purchased many houses built by Liang's construction company.

"Soong did nothing to help my company win the contract," Liang said yesterday.

Liang, a former chairman of the Bank of Overseas Chinese (華僑銀行), confirmed that he and Soong were once close friends until his bank was involved in a financial scandal and Soong ordered a tightening of the provincial banking system's credit to Liang's construction company in 1997.

"Political figures have their considerations. I don't hate Soong for cutting off his relations with me, but I do hate him for calling my loans back." Liang said no enterprise could withstand such pressure.

He said he has no connection with Soong now.

Liang is among the dozens of current and former associates of Soong who have been summoned by the Taipei District Court for questioning this week as part of its investigation into Soong's finances.

Liang told reporters that he will tell prosecutors the truth.

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