Former Taipei City Government Department of Finance commissioner Chiu Da-chan (邱大展) and four others were indicted by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday for breach of trust and other charges over alleged misconduct during the bidding process for the Taipei Twin Towers project.
A consortium led by Taipei Gateway International Development Co (太極雙星) won the tender in October last year with a bid of NT$70 billion (US$2.4 billion), but lost the rights to the project in February when it failed to put up a NT$1.89 billion performance guarantee by a deadline.
The prosecutors’ office said Chiu had been charged with breach of trust, while consortium chairman Michael Ho (何岳儒), company spokesman Wang You-jen (王佑仁), contractor Cheng Hung-dao (程宏道) and former Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) official Jia Er-ching (賈二慶) were charged with fraud and forgery.
Prosecutors recommended that the Taipei District Court give them heavy sentences.
Prosecutors said Cheng and Jia forged the company seals of Malaysia-based IGB Corp Bhd and Mid Valley City Sdn Bhd and used them in its contract with DORTS, which said the two companies had joined the consortium.
The consortium also made forged documents that said Japanese developer Mori Building had joined it, which Mori said was false, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the consortium provided false documents to the Taipei City Government and the 17 members of a committee reviewing the bid in the knowledge that it had no capability to handle such a project, but planned to win the bid and then sell shares in the consortium and hand most of the project to other companies to make illegal profits.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the city government respected Chiu’s indictment.
Hau has repeatedly vouched for Chiu’s innocence since the bribery allegations surfaced in February. He maintained a low-key stance on the issue yesterday and said the city government would determine the future of the project after it had received a report on the indictments.
The project has been stalled since Taipei Gateway International Development Co failed to provide the performance bond in February.
The city government has been negotiating a new contract with second-placed bidder BES Engineering Corp (中華工程) amid concerns that the project could be canceled or a new bidding process be initiated.
Hau has said the city government would proceed with the project unless prosecutors confirm that the bidding process was illegal.
Chiu defended himself in a written statement, criticizing prosecutors for fabricating crimes and damaging his reputation.
He said the bidding process was handled by DORTS and the finance department had checked the financial records of the consortium before listing it as a legitimate bidder, adding that as just one of the 17 committee members reviewing the bid, he had little influence in the bidding process.
“I did not play a leading role in the bidding process. Besides, 16 out of 17 review committee members gave the consortium the highest score based on their own assessments. I had no control over their decisions,” he said.
He dismissed concerns about his frequent contacts with Ho and Wang, insisting that he was eliminating obstacles for investors to facilitate the project in a “partnership.”
“Prosecutors mistook my proactive approach in promoting public construction projects as acts to profit private investors. This is a blow against all government officials who are responsible for public construction projects,” he said.
Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), a former aide to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), has also been indicted over her alleged involvement in the corruption allegations.
Taipei City councilors across party lines yesterday urged the city government to nullify the project, with Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Chiang Chi-ming (江志銘) saying that Chiu’s indictment proved the bidding process was illegal and that it should be nullified.