Thu, Oct 23, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Lee fingers Soong in Chung Hsing case

SCANDAL The former president said that the PFP chairman opened secret accounts at Chung Hsing Bills Finance when he was the KMT secretary-general

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui speaks to reporters at the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office after testifying on the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal yesterday.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) reportedly told Taipei prosecutors yesterday that People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) did embezzle money from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Lee testified yesterday at a close-door investigative hearing chaired by Taipei Chief Prosecutor Lin Bang-liang (林邦樑) and Prosecutor Meng Ling-shih (孟令士).

The hearing was scheduled to begin at 9:30am, but Lee arrived at the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office around 8:40am, wanting to begin earlier.

When approached by reporters when he walked out of the prosecutors' office's interrogation room No. 1 around noon, Lee said that he would not disclose what he told prosecutors.

"Nobody is supposed to make public any information from an investigative hearing, so I won't," Lee said.

However, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Chien Lin Hui-chun (錢林慧君) was happy to provide reporters with details of what she said was Lee's testimony.

"This testimony was endorsed by Lee," she said, showing reporters a document which she then read from.

According to Chien Lin, Lee told prosecutors that Soong opened a "secretary-general's account" at the Bank of Taiwan on Sept. 17, 1991 without any authorization from the party.

Soong was secretary-general of KMT at the time. The account was reportedly set up to accept donations to the KMT.

According to Chien Lin, Lee said Soong opened another secret account, that same day and for the same purpose, at the Chung Hsing Bills Finance Corp -- again without informing him beforehand.

She said Lee told prosecutors that between Sept. 17, 1991 and March 10, 1993, NT$360.88 million in donations was deposited into the two accounts, but that he had not been told of donations even though he was the president and chairman of the KMT.

"Soong left his post holding the money in 1993 since Hsu Shui-teh (許水德), who took over as KMT secretary-general, was not told of the two accounts," Chien Lin said.

Lee's testimony yesterday was the second time he has talked to prosecutors since a new investigation into Soong and the Chung Hsing account was launched in March.

The investigation was begun based on information that Chuang Po-lin (莊柏林), a lawyer for the KMT, provided to prosecutors when they announced, on Jan. 20, 2001, their decision not to prosecute Soong in connection with what had become known as the Chung Hsing Bills scandal.

At the time, Chuang described what he gave the prosecutors' office as "new evidence."

When contacted by the Taipei Times by phone yesterday, Chuang said that Soong's not being honest with him was what upset Lee the most.

"I can understand how he [Lee] felt," Chuang said.

Lee's attendance at yesterday's hearing was his first appearance at a prosecutors' office and the first time a former president has replied to a summons to a prosecutors' office.

He was earlier interrogated by prosecutors at his residence in Tahsi, Taoyuan County, on March 26.

"Lee is a former president. We would respect his requests when necessary but he has not asked for any special prerogatives nor is he being given any," said Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達), the spokesman of the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office.

By law, only the summoned person and his or her lawyer are allowed to enter an interrogation room for a close-door investigative hearing.

For security reasons, however, the prosecutors' office also allowed Lee's security guards to be in the room as well.

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