Tue, Nov 22, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Key figures in KRTC scandal indicted

SUSPECTED INVOLVEMENT Former presidential adviser Chen Che-nan and 21 others, including Kaohsiung City officials, were charged with corruption and breach of trust

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Kaohsiung prosecutors yesterday indicted former deputy secretary-general to the Presidential Office Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) and numerous Kaohsiung City Government officials for corruption and breach of trust for their alleged involvment in the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal.

"Prosecutors indicted 22 defendants, including officials, a Thai-worker brokerage company staffer and four Thai workers who led the Aug. 21 riot. We are still probing whether officials took bribes from the Kaohsiung MRT construction project," Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office Spokesman Chung Chung-hsiao (鍾忠孝) said yesterday.

Chung said Chen Che-nan and former KRTC vice chairman Chen Min-hsien (陳敏賢) were indicted for corruption because both had suspicious links to Huapan Co, the firm in charge of hiring and managing Thais to work on the MRT construction project.

Prosecutors cited evidence of several trips to Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea, as well as "entertainment" paid for by the firm.

Chung said five commissioners from a committee that conducted six public bids for the Kaohsiung MRT construction project in 2002 -- including former director of the Kaohsiung Bureau of Rapid Transit Systems Chou Li-liang (周禮良), former KRTC general manager Lai Hsien-yu (賴獻玉), director of the Kaohsiung City's Bureau of Urban Development Wu Meng-te (吳孟德), former sectary-general of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Chung Shan-tun (鍾善藤), and Chen Min-hsien -- were indicted on corruption and breach of trust.

Chung added that the five commissioners were suspected of breaking a regulation on conducting public bidding by illegally favoring Hwang Chang Building Co (HCBC), because HCBC won an NT$8 billion (US$238 million) contract -- the largest awarded among the six auctions -- even though RSEA Engineering Co had offered a bid that was NT$2.7 billion cheaper.

According to prosecutors, the committee stipulated that any company that won two of the six auctions could not take part in the rest of the bidding, and it was suspected of manipulating the bidding process by holding auctions for smaller projects first.

Chung said that when major contender RSEA Engineering Co won the first two small bids, it was forced out of the game.

Chung added that former director of the Kaohsiung City Government's Bureau of Labor Affairs, Fan Lai-chin (方來進), and another official from the bureau were indicted for malfeasance in office.

Chung said that when the Council of Labor Affairs last year received letters saying that MRT workers were being overworked, the council asked the bureau to evaluate whether the MRT needed to hire more domestic workers.

However, Chung added, the bureau did not investigate the matter as the council requested, but instead sent a document to the council saying that the number of workers was sufficient.

Chung said that the general manager of Huapan Co, Yen Shih-hua (嚴世華), and Yen's wife Wang Tsai-pi (王彩碧) have been indicted for reportedly receiving kickbacks from Thai workers as well as several labor brokerage companies in the kingdom.

Chung said four Thais working for the Kaohsiung MRT project were held responsible for obstructing the performance of public duties and endangering public safety -- charges stemming from a riot in August.

On Aug. 21, some 300 of 1,700 Thai workers building the MRT rioted over their poor treatment at the hands of Huapan Co, exposing the scandal.

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