Wed, Oct 18, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Nantou county official held

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

A special assistant to Nantou County Commissioner Peng Pai-hsien (彭百顯) was detained on suspicion of corruption yesterday, following a search of the county government offices by prosecutors the day before.

After questioning that went on into the early hours yesterday, prosecutors requested that the court detain Peng's special assistant Wu Cheng-hsun (吳政勳), director of the county government's policy planning unit Tsai Pi-yun (蔡碧雲) and county government advisor Pai His-min (白錫旼).

The Nantou District Court approved Wu's detention but released Tsai. Pai was also released, on NT$1 million bail.

Prosecutors said there was evidence indicating the three received kickbacks and favored certain firms in handling post-quake reconstruction projects.

Meanwhile, two other county government officials in charge of affairs relating to construction bidding underwent polygraph tests yesterday. Prosecutors did not give further details.

The investigation has centered on construction bidding and the use of quake relief funds.

Prosecutors also explained to the media yesterday the mysterious "Russian logs case."

After the quake Russia donated some 3,000 tonnes of logs to Taiwan for reconstruction. The Executive Yuan then gave 2,700 tonnes of these logs to Nantou County.

But most of these logs went missing, divisional head prosecutor at Nantou District Prosecutors' Office Hsu Sung-kuei (徐松奎) said.

He said county officials had different versions where the logs went, but so far only 30 percent of the logs have been found -- in a search the day before yesterday in Changhua (彰化). The expense of processing these logs also mystified prosecutors.

Hsu said signed county government documents show the price for processing the logs was around NT$7 million. "But the money actually paid out was more than NT$22 million," he said, adding the whereabouts of the money was being investigated.

He said even the logs found in Changhua needed further examination before it could be proved that they were the mystery Russian logs.

At an interpellation session at the county council yesterday morning, the claims of corruption were discussed by councilors.

Many councilors attacked Peng's administration, but Peng insisted he and his staff were innocent and claimed "there is political intervention in the investigation."

The independent commissioner was once a close associate of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), when both of them were DPP legislators.

But Peng withdrew from the DPP in 1997 when he decided to run for the post of commissioner even though he wasn't nominated by the party. He won the election.

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