Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Taipei Court detains ex-bureau head

CONSEQUENCES The former head of the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau could face a minimum of five years in jail, but he denied any wrongdoing in court

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AFP

The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered the detention of Yeh Sheng-mao (葉盛茂), former head of the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau, for allegedly withholding information on former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) possible involvement in money laundering.

Yeh stands accused of covering up for Chen and warning the former president that a foreign anti-money laundering organization was investigating alleged money-laundering by Chen’s family.

Yeh was indicted on Aug. 28 on suspicion of concealing government documents containing a list of overseas bank accounts in the names of members of Chen’s family and leaking national secrets. His lawyers have maintained he knew nothing about the alleged money laundering.

In yesterday’s hearing the presiding judge said Yeh’s behavior might have helped Chen profit illegally and therefore might have violated the Criminal Code.

The judge said because corruption is a serious crime with a minimum five-year sentence, the court had decided to detain Yeh, a decision that seemed to leave him shocked. He was taken to the Taipei Detention Center from the court after the hearing.

Yeh’s trial at Taipei District Court was due to take place behind closed doors on Sept. 15 because it involved national security issues, but the court later decided the hearing would be open to the public.

Prosecutors said that Yeh was supposed to relay information that the bureau’s Anti-Money Laundering Center obtained on Jan. 27 from the international anti-money laundering Egmont Group to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, but that the office never received it.

Prosecutors also accused Yeh of failing to pass on information it had obtained about possible money-laundering by former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) to prosecutors in 2006.

When the judge asked Yeh whether he had handed over classified documents to Chen in order to keep his job, Yeh said no.

He told the court he had not broken the law by handing over any documents to Chen and had not concealed any official documents.

“As a criminal investigator and an intelligence chief, I had to hand over documents concerning intelligence information to the head of [the] nation, which is legal,” Yeh told the court.

Chen’s office has said that the former president received two “pieces of intelligence” from Yeh, but that they were not documents.

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