Fri, Nov 24, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Ma questioned over donation records

SCHEDULED SESSION An anti-corruption prosecutor grilled the Taipei mayor again yesterday, this time over payments he made to charity with his special allowance fund

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) confirmed he was questioned by prosecutors again yesterday morning about the details of all donations he claimed to have made to public welfare groups with money from his mayoral special allowance fund.

It was the second time Ma has been questioned by prosecutors. Taipei prosecutors questioned him on Tuesday for more than four hours over his handling of his special allowance fund.

Returning to his office at around 12:30pm, Ma said the session had provided him with a good opportunity to clarify the facts.

"Everything is fine," Ma told reporters gathered in front of his office.

While declining to comment on the details of his conversation with the prosecutors, Ma insisted that he had explained the matter in detail, and believed that the prosecutors would make their judgment in accordance with the law.

"The prosecutors wanted to know the details of my donations. I respect the prosecutors and believe that they will handle the case impartially," he said while attending a municipal event at Chiang Cheng Municipal Junior High School.

Ma has previously said that he had donated more than NT$69 million (US$2.09 million) to public welfare groups over the past eight years, including two foundations established with NT$47 million left over from mayoral election subsidies and more than NT$16 million from his personal account that was given to more than 11 groups.

Last Friday Ma said that he had donated NT$6 million earlier that day and would contribute another NT$5.5 million from the special mayoral fund this week.

Those two donations, he said, in addition to the NT$5 million he donated over the past year, would equal the NT$16 million of his monthly mayoral allowance that required no independent accounting oversight.

On Saturday, however, the Taipei City Government said that the money came not from Ma's special allowance fund, but from his personal bank account. The mayor had decided to donate an amount equal in proportion to highlight the flaws in the special fund system, the city government said.

Facing continuous requests for him to publicize his donation records, Ma reiterated yesterday that he would make the records public "at the proper time," but declined to give an exact date.

Ma also confirmed that his wife, Chou Mei-ching (周美青), was questioned last week, but denied she was questioned again yesterday.

Ma was questioned by Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (侯寬仁) from the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office's Black Gold Investigation Center.

Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office Spokesman Chang Wen-cheng (張文政) said that yesterday's session with Ma was a scheduled one and that Ma was the only person summoned for questioning.

"Prosecutors needed to see him [Ma] again to clarify their questions over documents that the defendant provided during the last session," Chang said.

"Prosecutors never summon anyone randomly. Our sessions are all scheduled. We would not summon anyone without good reason," he added.

Additional reporting by Jimmy ChuaNg

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