Fri, May 08, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Dome report could lead to Ma probe

DEBACLE?An initial probe by the Clean Government Committee might have found a violation of the law in contract changes made when Ma Ying-jeou was Taipei mayor

By Kuo An-chia and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

President Ma Ying-jeou holds up the records of the eighth meeting of the National Unification Council at an exhibition organized by the Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei yesterday on the history of cross-strait interactions and exchanges.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The Taipei City Government’s Clean Government Committee is expected to reveal today the results of its probe into how Farglory Land Development Co’s (遠雄建設) had secured the Taipei Dome project, possibly calling for an investigation of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), a former Taipei mayor, and whether he sought to benefit Farglory, media outlets have reported.

According to a report published yesterday by the Liberty Times, the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper, the committee has uncovered evidence of Ma and former Taipei Department of Finance commissioner Lee Sush-der (李述德) attempting to aid Farglory in the project.

According to the news report on the committee’s findings, the Taipei City Government under Ma had in December 2003 announced a draft contract for the Taipei Dome build-transfer-operate (BOT) project, but by October 2009, more than 90 percent of the contract had allegedly been changed.

The committee said that of the 180 subclauses in the contract, the Taipei City Government benefited from just two items, while Farglory benefited from 47.

The committee reportedly said that the city government was allegedly in violation of the Act for Promotion of Private Participation in Infrastructure Projects (促進民間參與公共建設法), adding that the removal of a clause obligating Farglory to use proceeds from subsidiary businesses in the Dome to subsidize the Dome’s sports facilities was in contravention of the act’s spirit.

The committee is reportedly calling for prosecutors to launch an investigation into the case.

The committee’s investigation task force includes lawyers Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍) and Yuan Shu-hui (袁秀慧), as well as city government consultant Hung Chih-kun (洪智坤).

While the Taipei City Government could pass the case to the district prosecutors’ office after the committee announces its allegations, or the lawyers could draft a report to expose the alleged illegal activity, Ma as president retains immunity from prosecution, the committee said, adding that as all members involved are ministers or above, the case might have to be transferred to the Special Investigation Division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

The division, established in 2007, is tasked with investigating the head of state, central government officials and high-ranking military officers suspected of graft, as well as serious criminal allegations.

Yuan yesterday afternoon said that Ma and Lee were part of the first phase of the inquiry and that the committee would not exclude looking into former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) role in the second phase of the investigation.

The task force is not focused on Ma or Lee, but rather on any official in a position to influence policy decisions on the Taipei Dome project, Yuan said.

Meanwhile, Lee yesterday rejected the allegations and said neither he nor Ma tried to benefit Farglory.

The committee should not become Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) political executioner, Lee added.

Lee rejected claims of having held secret meetings with Farglory and said that the city government had constantly been at odds with the developer, adding that it sought only to benefit city residents and not the corporation.

“The mayor and the city government will be discussing the issue based on the committee’s report and all further action will have to wait until after the report is published,” Taipei City Government spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said.

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