Tue, Sep 28, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Court clears Hsu of embezzling secret diplomatic fund

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei District Court yesterday found former National Security Bureau chief accountant Hsu Ping-chiang (徐炳強) not guilty of embezzling money from a secret bureau fund.

"If the prosecutor handling the case decides to file for an appeal and take the case to the Taiwan High Court, a second ruling is possible," district court spokesman Huang Jiunn-ming (黃俊明) said.

Yesterday's verdict received much public attention as several high-profile government officials were involved in the case.

The scandal began with the disappearance in 1994 of US$4.5 million from a secret fund of US$10.58 million for securing diplomatic relations with South Africa. According to prosecutors, the bureau paid the money to South Africa on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 1994.

On April 4, 1999, the ministry returned a total of US$10.7 million, including interest, to the bureau. Hsu allegedly asked former chief cashier Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍) to deposit US$7.5 million in the Taiwan Research Institute's bank account.

Liu is himself suspected of embezzling more than NT$192 million (US$5.65 million) from that figure. According to the Bureau of Investigation, he left the country on Sept. 3, 2000, for Shanghai.

He reappeared in Bangkok in January 2002 and then went to North America. Liu is still on the run.

On Nov. 17 last year, the Taipei Prosecutor's Office char-ged Hsu and Liu with corruption and asked the court for a sentence of 15 years for Hsu and 12 years for Liu.

Former China Development Holding Corp chairman Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英), who was president of the Taiwan Research Institute at the time, allegedly wired money to Ruentex Corp chairman Yin Yen-liang's (尹衍樑) bank accounts in the US and Singapore. Yin then allegedly wired the money to one of Ruentex's bank accounts in Taiwan, after which he "donated" US$3 million of it to the Taiwan Research Institute.

On April 14, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Hsu went head-to-head during a closed-door hearing at the Taipei District Court over the secret fund.

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