Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Prosecutors question Soong

CHUNG HSING BILLS After five hours of questioning, the PFP chairman told a press conference that nothing in the case had changed during the past two years

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei prosecutors yesterday questioned People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) for five hours over his role in the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal. Soong then held a press conference to protest his innocence in the long-running case.

The closed-door interrogation was the first time prosecutors had questioned Soong since they decided to resume their investigation into the case two months ago.

In an unusual move, prosecutors identified Soong as neither a "witness" nor a "defendant," either of which is normally used to describe the person being questioned.

Speaking on behalf of Soong, PFP Policy Research Center Director Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) told reporters that the interrogation was conducted by Taipei Chief Prosecutor Lin Bang-liang (林邦樑) and Prosecutor Chu Ying-hsiang (朱應翔).

He said they were particularly interested in tracing money in Soong's personal accounts, money which the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had originally claimed was taken from it without the knowledge of then-chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

After nearly five hours of questioning beginning at 8.30am, Soong went to the Howard Plaza Hotel to brief the press and try to clear his name.

"I did not have witnesses and evidence to prove my innocence," Soong said. "But two years ago, prosecutors cleared my name by deciding not to prosecute me. I did not embezzle any money from the KMT."

Soong said that all the transactions in the case were via checks.

During the investigation, pro-secutors found the checks, interrogated the people whose names were on them and ultimately dropped the case.

"The truth is the truth," Soong said. "My statement will always be the same because facts will not change. However, please forgive me, for I am not supposed to make public my conversation with prosecutors during the interrogation this morning."

In 2000, the KMT filed a suit against Soong and accused him of embezzling NT$360.88 million in party funds and forging party seals to open bank accounts in the party's name without authorization.

The KMT used the case to attack Soong, who had left the KMT to run an independent presidential campaign.

On Jan. 20, 2001, the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office announced its decision not to prosecute Soong and said that there was insufficient evidence for an indictment on the charges of misappropriation, forgery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and tax evasion.

However, Chuang Po-lin (莊柏林), a KMT lawyer, immediately presented "new evidence" to the police. Prosecutors then decided to assign a five-man task force to start a new investigation into the matter.

But, during yesterday's press conference, KMT Administration and Management Committee Director Chang Che-chen (張哲琛) said that Chuang had acted without authorization and that the KMT did not mean to attack Soong again.

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