Home / Local News
Sat, Nov 25, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Huwei mayor, councilors face graft indictment

PROBE Prosecutors say they have evidence that all 12 of the township's councilors, as well as the mayor, conspired in a bid-rigging scam to make money from local construction projects

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

The mayor, council chairman and 12 other councilors of Huwei (虎尾) Township, central Taiwan, were indicted yesterday on corruption charges.

Also indicted were four construction executives and a former councilor. The prosecution said the indicted had conspired to squeeze money out of local construction budgets through bid rigging.

The prosecutor recommended that Mayor Chou Jung-chen (周榮振), the alleged head of the conspiracy, and Chen Chen-sheng (陳振生), the council chairman, be sentenced to 12 years and 10 years in jail respectively.

Chou and Chen were not available for comment yesterday.

The construction projects in question concerned drainage channel repairs and a shopping street construction project, with a total value of approximately NT$30 million.

The contracts were awarded in October 1999.

Later that year, the newly recalled vice council chairman Liao Cheng-hsiung (廖正雄) confessed the crime to Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau's Yunlin (雲林) County office and turned over NT$110,000 of his illegal profits.

Local media cited speculation that the case came to light due to the dissatisfaction of certain parties over division of the profits.

According to the indictment, after the first public biddings for the two projects broke down last August, Chou, Chen and six other councilors met and decided to cooperate to manipulate another bid.

The indictment says that all of the councilors were ultimately involved in the conspiracy. It says that they arranged for one construction company to act as the "winner" and three other companies to act as fake competitors.

The indictment goes on to allege that to ensure that there would not in fact be any competition, four councilors waited outside the town hall during the public bidding invitation period to dissuade would-be competitors from joining the bidding.

The pre-arranged winner company was told of the contract ceilings and, without genuine competition, obtained the bids as planned, the prosecution alleges.

The company which won the contract then paid 10 percent of its value to the conspirators for them to share.

According to the indictment, Chou received NT$1,100,000 while the others received from between NT$70,000 and NT$170,000.

The indictment says, however, that Chou, Chen and 10 of the other councilors and three of the four "bidders" deny the charges.

But the prosecutor said the confessions of the other suspects amount to convincing evidence of criminal involvement of all of the indicted.

The officiating prosecutor Lai Che-hsiung (賴哲雄) said Liao Cheng-hsiung's giving himself up helped the investigation and Liao, in accordance with the law, may be sentenced less severely.

"Black gold" is commonly found in Taiwan's grassroots politics. But cases of township chiefs and the full complement of councilors being indicted en masse are rare.

The law stipulates that mayors and councilors must be deprived of their posts if convicted of corruption.

This story has been viewed 3054 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top