Two defendants in former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) alleged money laundering case yesterday pleaded guilty in court to helping former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) launder money, as the Taipei District Court continued its trial of corruption and money laundering cases involving the former first family.
Tsai Ming-chieh (蔡銘杰) and his brother, Tsai Ming-che (蔡銘哲), are among the names on a long list of intermediaries allegedly used by Wu to wire and secretly stash huge sums of money overseas. They are brothers of Tsai Mei-li (蔡美利), a former classmate of the former first lady, who also allegedly played a role in the money-laundering schemes.
The pair told presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) yesterday that they admitted to the charges and would like to confess in exchange for lighter sentences.
Prosecutors told the court they would consult senior prosecutors to decide whether to start a negotiation process with them.
The plea by Tsai Ming-che and Tsai Ming-chieh followed a similar one by Wu Shu-jen’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) and elder brother Wu Ching-mao (吳景茂) during the previous court session on Jan. 21.
Prosecutors probing the cases say that Tsai Ming-che helped the former first family solicit bribes and lined his own pockets with a portion of the money in a land deal between the government-run Hsinchu Science Park and Dayu Development Corp — a subsidiary under the Koo Group.
While the former first family allegedly received NT$300 million (US$8.96 million) in kickbacks from a total payoff of NT$400 million by Taiwan Cement Group (台泥) chairman Leslie Koo (辜成允), Tsai Ming-che allegedly received NT$70 million. The rest of the bribe allegedly went to James Lee (李界木), then-chief of the Hsinchu Science Park Administration.
As Tsai Ming-che confessed his role in the case and told prosecutors he would return the funds, their Dec. 12 indictment recommends that he be given a light sentence or set free. The prosecutors also asked the court to be lenient on Tsai Ming-chieh.
Wu has denied that she ever asked the Tsais to handle business for her or had Tsai Ming-che as her aide, and has sworn to “kill Tsai if he dared to demand money from others in my name.”