Minister accused of influence peddling steps down

LUCKY BREAK::SID prosecutors unexpectedly stumbled upon the alleged irregularities while monitoring lawmaker Ker Chien-ming’s mobile phone in relation to another case

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Sep 07, 2013 - Page 1

Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) yesterday accused Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) and Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office Head Prosecutor Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) of illegally lobbying for a lawsuit involving Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

Tseng announced his resignation later yesterday.

A spokesman for the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID), Yang Jung-tsung (楊榮宗), told a press conference earlier yesterday that after Ker on June 18 was found not guilty of embezzling funds from Formosa Telecom, he asked Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), to lobby Tseng and Chen to use their influence to stop a prosecutor from appealing the case with the Supreme Court.

They influenced Lin Shiow-tao (林秀濤), the prosecutor in charge of Ker’s breach of trust case, and Lin did not appeal the ruling, Yang said, adding that Tseng would be referred to the Control Yuan for an impeachment probe, while Chen would be subject to an administrative evaluation.

Tseng and Chen are not likely to face any criminal charges because they did not receive any kickbacks or other rewards for their lobbying efforts, the SID said.

Huang said in a statement that he was deeply saddened by the influence peddling charges because the two men’s behavior had seriously tarnished the reputation and credibility of the judiciary.

Huang said that as the country’s top prosecutor he was determined to resist improper interference and maintain the independence and impartiality of prosecutors.

Huang said SID prosecutors unexpectedly stumbled upon the alleged irregularities while monitoring Ker’s mobile phone in relation to another case.

After Ker was acquitted in June, he made a telephone call to Chen, asking Chen’s office not to appeal the case, the SID said, adding that Chen then met with Lin and hinted that she should not appeal the case, saying the legislature was concerned about the case and it is in charge of the office’s annual budget.

The SID said that because Ker could not make sure Chen would influence the prosecutor he also asked Wang to lobby for him.

On June 28, Wang made a telephone call to Ker, saying that Chen had mentioned the matter to Tseng and the latter had agreed to handle it, the SID said, adding that on the next day, Wang and Tseng met in New Taipei City (新北市) and Wang later called Ker to say the case had been taken care of.

Both Tseng and Chen denied the accusations

“It is a shame that the SID is accusing people with false facts,” Tseng told a press conference, adding that the SID made the accusations due to “personal resentment.”

Separately yesterday, Chen said he never told the prosecutor not to appeal Ker’s case, while Lin said she decided not to appeal because she found no evidence suggesting irregularities.

Meanwhile, Ker said in a statement that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, had manipulated the judiciary to carry out a purge within the KMT.

Wang was on a vacation with his family in Malaysia and did not immediately respond to the allegations.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and CNA