Wed, Feb 11, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Wu Shu-jen pleads guilty to forgery, money-laundering

CORRUPTION DENIED Wu said the money she wired overseas had been family money, not public funds, and her husband was unaware of her money management

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AGENCIES

Wu Shu-jen, the wife of former president Chen Shui-bian, speaks to the media after a pre-trial session on her money laundering case at the Taipei District Court yesterday. Wu pleaded guilty yesterday to forgery, but denied the corruption charges against her.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) pleaded guilty to forgery and two of three counts of money-laundering yesterday but not guilty to the other charges against her.

She admitted using fake receipts to gain reimbursements from the presidential “state affairs” fund, but denied embezzling money from the fund and other charges of taking bribes in connection with a land deal and a government construction project.

Wu was first indicted along with three of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) former aides on Nov. 3, 2006, for siphoning off NT$14.8 million (US$439,000) from the fund.

The prosecutors brought additional charges of corruption and money-laundering against her, her husband, their son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), his wife Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), three aides and seven others on Dec. 12.

Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) had scheduled the hearing to clarify witness statements and evidence and to schedule trial dates with the defendants and prosecutors in the money-laundering case, which includes charges related to the "state affairs" fund, a 2003 land deal in Lungtan (龍潭), Taoyuan County, and the Nangang Exhibition Center construction project.

Of the three counts of money-laundering, Wu pleaded guilty to those involving the Nangang and Lungtan cases, but not the "state affairs" fund.

The hearing was scheduled to begin at 2:30pm. Wu and her son arrived at the court at 2:20pm.

National Taiwan University Hospital sent two doctors, two nurses and an ambulance to the Taipei District Court as a precaution. Wu’s appearance yesterday was her first at the court since proceedings against her began in December 2006. She fainted during that session and was rushed to hospital.

The judge spent approximately 20 minutes reviewing Wu’s health and making sure that she would be able to handle the planned three-hour hearing.

When asked about the Lungtan case, Wu denied corruption, but admitted receiving NT$200 million from Taiwan Cement Corp (台泥) chairman Leslie Koo (辜成允), which she called a “political donation.”

She said she had no idea why Koo would say that he had wired NT$400 million to her and call it a“commission” connected to the land deal, as prosecutors said he did during questioning on Nov. 24 last year.

Wu asked the judges to help her locate the missing money, referring to the difference between what she admitted receiving and the amount Koo claimed to have wired.

The former first lady admitted receiving US$2.2 million from Nangang Exhibition Center contractor Kuo Chuan-ching (郭銓慶), not US$2.73 million as stated in the indictment.

She did not say whether the US$2.2 million was a bribe as prosecutors allege or a political donation as she has previously suggested.

Kuo told prosecutors that he collected US$2.73 million to bribe the former first family after winning the tender to build the Nangang Exhibition Center.

Wu told the judges that the money she wired overseas came from private family funds, not public funds, and her husband had no knowledge of how she managed the family’s money.

The hearing lasted about two hours and Tsai granted Wu’s request to postpone tomorrow’s scheduled hearing to March 3 and March 5 because her physical condition would not allow her to appear in court two days in a row.

After the hearing, Wu read a statement to reporters outside the court building.

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