Investigators yesterday summoned two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians in Chiayi County for questioning on suspicion of involvement in an irregular construction bid, in a move that the opposition said may have been politically motivated.
The Chiayi District Prosecutors’ Office said in a press statement that DPP Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang (張花冠) and DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), who is a former Chiayi county commissioner, as well as a number of county officials were summoned for questioning in the morning.
Former Council for Economic Planning and Development vice chairman Chang Ching-sen (張景森) and a contractor, Chun Lung Development Co (春龍開發公司) chairman Pan chung-hao (潘中豪), were also questioned.
A total of 60 people were questioned, the office said. Questioning was ongoing as of press time last night.
The office said that 13 prosecutors with the Chiayi District Prosecutors’ Office led 150 agents from the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) to search the county government, Chang’s residence, her daughter’s residence and other targets.
The prosecutors’ office said the investigation was looking into the Dapumei (大埔美) Intelligent Industrial Park at the Dapumei Herbs Park, which was a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project.
The prosecutors said that in the proposal, the county government and the contractor each provided NT$1.5 billion (US$50 million) for the project, while Chun Lung Development Co won a public tender held by the county government.
Prosecutors said they suspected Pan had bribed Helen Chang, Chang Ching-sen and Chen Ming-wen with “several million” or “tens of millions” of New Taiwan dollars to ensure his company obtained the project.
County government spokeswoman Hsu Shu-fen (許淑芬) told a press conference that 16 government officials, including Helen Chang, were summoned for questioning.
Vice Commissioner Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) said she had convened a meeting for chief officials of the county government, adding that she believed the county government was clean and innocent, and hoped that all officials could continue to work as hard as usual.
Lin said the county government had contacted the families of the officials who were being questioned and would keep them informed of the developments in the case.
Responding to the raids, DPP spokesperson Wang Min-sheng (王閔生) said that as the investigation into a corruption scandal involving former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世), which has threatened to engulf the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), was ongoing, the sudden raid at the Chiayi County Government could be an attempt by prosecutors to shift attention away from the KMT administration.
Wang said the launch of the investigation was suspicious and could very well be motivated by politics.
Additional reporting by CNA