Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Former economic affairs minister is a bribery suspect

STAFF WRITER

The "Black Gold Investigation Center" of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutor's Office yesterday confirmed that prosecutors have listed former minister of economic affairs Wang Chih-kang (王志剛) as a defendant in a case that concerns a NT$1 million bribe.

Prior to the announcement, Wang had been regarded as only a witness in the case.

Wang was alleged to have accepted NT$1 million as a bribe from fugitive Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪), who was also former Tuntex Group chairman, in 1999 in return for a promise that Chen's subsidiary company, Tung Ting Gas Corp (東鼎液化瓦斯), would win a contract for the Kuantang (觀塘) Industrial Park development project, which included building Tatan Power Plant.

Investigators discovered transaction records detailing NT$1 million in deposits in Wang's bank account.

According to the prosecutors' office, Wang has been summoned several times for questioning in the matter, and he has maintained that the NT$1 million in his bank account was actually money from his savings.

Chen Teng-tsun (陳藤村), Chen Yu-hao's aide and Tung Ting's administrative manager, told prosecutors that Chen Yu-hao asked him to hand the bribe to Wang on Dec. 10, 1999.

Investigators discovered that a total of more than NT$300 million was wired into Chen Teng-tsun's bank accounts between 1998 and 2000. The money was withdrawn at various times in cash, but Chen Teng-tsun could not explain where the money went. But Chen Teng-tsun told prosecutors that the NT$300 million was from Chen Yu-hao, and he was merely "using" the money when carrying out Chen Yu-hao's bidding, although he said that he could not remember where the money went.

Prosecutors are now investigating whether additional high-ranking government officials are involved in the scandal.

Tung Ting lost the 25-year, NT$395 billion contract to supply liquid natural gas to Taiwan Power Company's 4,000-megawatt thermal power plant despite the alleged bribery.

Taipower awarded the contract to another state-run company, Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油), in an open international tender in July last year.

"The entire accusation is a malicious lie. The Tung Ting Company did not win the contract. Somebody has been attacking me on purpose," Wang said.

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