Fri, Apr 30, 2010 - Page 1 News List

KMT stakes claim to Soong’s Chung Hsing Bills deposit

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday claimed ownership of the money People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) deposited with the Taipei District Court because of the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal, and urged Soong to return the money to the KMT.

Soong deposited NT$240 million (US$7 million) with the court in 2000 to prove his innocence after former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), in his capacity as then-KMT chairman, accused him of embezzling the money from an account set up by the party to care for the family of late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

The KMT later filed a lawsuit against Soong over his alleged embezzlement. Soong said the money was the balance of the account and he deposited the money with the court with “KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui” designated as the person entitled to withdraw the money.

Prosecutors later dropped all charges against Soong, but the money remained with the court until Lee agreed earlier this year to settle the issue and allow Soong to take the money back.

The KMT held a press conference yesterday to claim ownership of the money and urged Soong to explain his reasons publicly if he did not plan to return the money to the KMT.

“Soong also said in the past that the money belonged to the KMT. The party will handle the process in a transparent way and it will donate the money to charitable groups if we receive it,” KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said.

Su dismissed speculation the party would allow the money to be given to Soong because KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not want the KMT to be involved in the controversial case. Su said Soong should provide evidence if he claims the money belongs to him.

“The KMT’s stance is consistent. We will handle the issue in a transparent way and allow the public to examine the process. It’s not an option to settle the issue in private,” he said.

Soong is in Shanghai for the World Expo. His lawyer, PFP Taipei City Councilor Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊), confirmed that Lee had agreed to allow Soong to take the money. Huang was of the opinion that the money should be returned to Soong.

The scandal first surfaced in December 1999 during the run-up to the March 2000 presidential election. The KMT accused Soong — who had been ousted from the party for running as an independent candidate for president — of using his previous position as KMT secretary-general to embezzle hundreds of millions of NT dollars into his son’s account.

Soong formed the PFP in 2000. Prosecutors dropped the charges against him in 2001, but the investigation was reopened in 2003 with Lee testifying against Soong in court.

The KMT dropped the charges in 2003 after former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) allied with Soong to run in the presidential election.

At a separate setting yesterday, KMT Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞), previously a PFP member, said the fact that the court had notified Soong he could retrieve the money proved Soong’s innocence, adding that the money was “obviously Soong’s campaign funds.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG

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