Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday became the first former president in the country’s history to be indicted when the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Investigation Panel (SIP) charged him with money laundering, corruption and forgery. Thirteen others were also charged.
Prosecutors did not recommend specific sentences for any of the defendants, but suggested that judges “consider the most severe punishment” for the former president, his wife, their son and daughter-in-law.
Prosecutor Lin Che-hui said the former leader could be given a life sentence in prison if found guilty of all charges.
His wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) and 10 former presidential aides, associates and family members were also indicted on a range of charges.
Chen Shui-bian, 57, has been held incommunicado at the Taipei Detention Center in Taipei County’s Tucheng (土城) since Nov. 12, pending results of the investigation.
Chen Shui-bian has repeatedly denied all the charges, saying he is the victim of political persecution.
The indictment charged Chen Shui-bian and his wife of illegally receiving or embezzling NT$490 million (US$14.7 million), some of which was sent overseas.
Of that total, the indictment read, NT$104.15 million was embezzled from the “state affairs” fund during his eight years in office from 2000 until earlier this year.
Prosecutors charge that more than NT$27 million of that was obtained by using inappropriate receipts to claim reimbursements from the fund — nearly double the NT$14.8 million Wu was originally indicted for in 2006.
The balance, or more than NT$76 million, was claimed by former Presidential Office treasurer Chen Chen-hui (陳鎮慧) as “secret funds” from the state affairs fund and handed over to Wu Shu-jen to pay for the family’s living expenses and other uses, the indictment alleges.
Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) former president
Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) former Presidential Office deputy general-secretary
Lin Teh-hsun (林德訓) former presidential aide
Chen Cheng-hui (陳鎮慧) former Presidential Office treasurer
James Lee (李界木) former director-general of the Hsinchu Science Park
Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) former first lady
Wu Ching-mao (吳景茂) Wu Shu-jen’s brother
Chen Chun-ying (陳俊英) Wu Ching-mao’s wife
Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) Chen Shui-bian’s son
Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) Chen Chih-chung’s wife
Tsai Mei-li (蔡美利) college classmate of Wu Shu-jen
Tsai Ming-chieh (蔡銘杰) Tsai Mei-li’s brother
Tsai Ming-che (蔡銘哲) Tsai Mei-li’s brother
Kuo Chuan-ching (郭銓慶) Rich Group chairman
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The former first family allegedly received another NT$100 million and US$6 million in kickbacks from a total payoff of US$11.98 million by a development company called “Dayu” to pave the way for the Hsinchu Science Park by purchasing a plot of land in Taoyuan County from Dayu at a price prosecutors believe was unreasonably high.
The balance of the bribe money was pocketed by James Lee (李界木), then-chief of the Hsinchu Science Park, and a friend of the former first family, Tsai Ming-che (蔡銘哲), who transferred the kickback to accounts held by former first family members, prosecutors charged.
The indictment accuses the former first family of collecting another US$2.73 million in bribes from contractor Kuo Chuan-ching (郭銓慶) to help him win a tender to build the Nangang Exhibition Hall between 2002 and 2003.
Prosecutors believe Kuo won the contract by bribing members of a panel organized by the Ministry of Interior to assess the bidding after then-interior minister Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) revealed the list of panel members to Kuo at the request of Wu Shu-jen.
Yu was also indicted last night for allegedly leaking secrets.
Prosecutors asked the court to hand down lenient punishments to the other 10 defendants because they had shown remorse and cooperated with prosecutors investigating their roles in the case.
The Taipei District Court later held a hearing to decide whether Chen Shui-bian’s detention would continue now that he has been indicted. At press time yesterday, the hearing was ongoing.