Thu, Jun 11, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Probe report declines to blame Hau

NO SMOKING GUN:Taipei’s Clean Government Committee said tender term revisions had hurt the city’s interests, but added that Hau had not stamped relevant documents

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday hosts a meeting with a group of borough wardens at Taipei City Hall.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Final reports on five controversial city development projects were issued yesterday by Taipei’s Clean Government Committee, which declined to accuse former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) of wrongdoing.

“The interim administrative investigation into the five cases has concluded,” Deputy Taipei Mayor Teng Chia-chi (鄧家基) said. “Where necessary, portions will be referred to judicial authorities for continued investigation.”

The city committee was revamped by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in January to investigate controversial development projects contracted out under previous city administrations.

Cases investigated included the Taipei Dome, Taipei Twin Towers, Taipei New Horizon, Syntrend Creative Park and MeHAS City development projects.

The committee recommended that the Taipei New Horizon and Syntrend Creative Park cases “as a whole” be referred to the Control Yuan for further investigation, while reserving judgement on the responsibility of Hau and other city officials.

Taipei Secretary-General Su Li-chiung (蘇麗瓊) said the committee’s investigation into Taipei New Horizon’s tender had revealed questions about the city’s call for bids.

“We discovered many unreasonable points in the process under which tender terms were revised that caused the interests of the city to suffer,” Su said. “However, exactly who was responsible is not something that our executive investigation can determine.”

She cited cuts to usage royalties paired with increases in the rental area allowed, along with progressive cuts to the proportion of the building required to be devoted to promoting cultural and creative industries — the build-operate-transfer (BOT) project’s mission.

Both decisions were made directly by the city government without consulting the review committee responsible for setting bid terms, she said.

Teng said that the case would be sent to Control Yuan “as a whole,” denying that the committee’s meeting had discussed Hau’s responsibility.

Committee member and lawyer Kao Tsung-liang (高宗良) said it was impossible to prove that Hau had made the controversial decisions, because he had not personally stamped the relevant official documents, which had been stamped by then-deputy mayor Lin Chung-yih (林崇一) in his stead.

He added that former Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lee Yong-ping (李永萍) — whose department was responsible for the BOT bidding process — had “lied” in a written statement submitted to the committee stating that Lin had held a cross-departmental meeting on reducing site royalty requirements. Neither the Department of Cultural Affairs nor the Department of Government Ethics had been able to find any record of such a meeting, while former officials interviewed by the committee also had no recollection of one, he said.

Because the decision to switch bidding terms was made prior to bid’s closure, there was no evidence of an inappropriate relationship between Lin and bidding firms that could serve as a basis for accusations of “illegal profiteering,” adding that there was still a possibility of meetings or other contacts.

Teng said that the committee’s investigation had revealed similar problems with the bidding process for the Syntrend Creative Park project, questioning the upper limit on site royalties included in the city’s call for bids, as well as the city government’s decision to treat the project as a BOT case rather than directly leasing out the land.

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