Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) acknowledged yesterday that the city government could nullify the bid for the scandal-ridden Taipei Twin Towers project if the investigation found the bidding process problematic.
The city government had planned to negotiate a contract with the project’s second-priority bidder, BES Engineering Corp (中華工程), after its cooperation with a multinational consortium led by Taipei Gateway International Development (太極雙星) collapsed and led to a probe into a bribery scandal in the bidding process. However, the plan can be stalled because prosecutors are looking into the possible involvement of more officials in the scandal.
“We will handle the project in accordance with the investigation results. If the prosecutors find any illegal acts in the bidding process, we may nullify the bid,” Hau said on the sidelines of an inspection tour of the city’s public cemetery in Muzha District (木柵).
The project, initiated by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during his term as Taipei mayor in 2004, had suffered four failed bidding processes until the consortium won the first-priority bid in October last year with a NT$70 billion (US$2.34 billion) offer.
The city government’s plan to complete the twin towers in 2018 has been delayed indefinitely because of the scandal.
In addition to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如), who has been taken into custody over her alleged deal with the developer to help it secure the bid in exchange for a NT$10 million bribe, prosecutors also suspect the involvement of more city officials and councilors, as well as 17 project review committee members, in the case. They include Taipei City Finance Department Commissioner Chiu Da-chan (邱大展), Taipei Gateway International Development consultant Lai Shih-sheng (賴世聲) and former Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) joint development division chief Lin Hsun-chieh (林勳杰).
Lin was on Wednesday transferred to another post as the division chief at the DORTS’ northern construction office.
Hau yesterday dismissed concerns about the timing of Lin’s transfer, saying that it was part of a personnel reshuffle in the department.
Hau in February approved the resignation of former DORTS commisioner Richard Chen (陳椿亮) over the city’s failed cooperation with the consortium, and appointed former Taipei deputy secretariat Tsai Hui-sheng (蔡輝昇) to take over Chen’s post.
“The transfer of Lin is part of a reshuffle in the department by Commissioner Tsai. It had nothing to do with the project,” the mayor said yesterday.
He reiterated that the city government would respect the investigation process and expected prosecutors to complete the probe as soon as possible.