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Thu, May 17, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Ex-speaker indicted for fraud

SCANDAL Taichung District prosecutors indicted Liu Sung-pan yesterday for allegedly taking NT$150 million in kickbacks from the Kuangsan Enterprise Group

STAFF WRITER

PHOTO: LEE HUNG-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Taichung District Prosecutors indicted former Legislative Yuan speaker Liu Sung-pan (劉松藩) yesterday, asking for a five-year prison sentence and a NT$30 million fine for his role in the Kuangsan corruption case.

Liu allegedly took NT$150 million in kickbacks from Tseng Cheng-jen (曾正仁), president of the Kuangsan Enterprise Group (廣三集團) and chairman of the board of the Taichung Business Bank (台中企銀), a subsidiary of the group.

Liu allegedly used the money to solicit votes for his 1999 contest for the speakership.

"At the time of the campaign, it was difficult to get funds. I borrowed a total of NT$150 million. I just haven't returned it yet," Liu said yesterday.

Liu, a nine-term legislator, was legislative speaker between 1991 and 1998. He served as chairman of the Taichung Business Bank between 1992 and 1998.

In April, a Taichung District Court sentenced Tseng to 20 years in prison for financial irregularities totaling roughly NT$20 billion.

The court found that Tseng had abused his position at the bank to push through loans worth more than NT$9 billion in November 1998.

In addition, the court found that Tseng had also embezzled NT$9.2 billion from Shuntayu (順大裕), another subsidiary he acquired in 1996.

During Tseng's trial, the Taichung District Court discovered that Liu had mediated to have the Chihching Corp (知慶公司) act as a front for Tseng in applying for a loan from the Taichung Business Bank (台中企銀), where Tseng served as chairman.

In November 1998, the bank approved a NT$1.5 billion loan for Chihching without making a proper assessment of the company's credit worthiness.

Following approval of the loan, Tseng gave NT$150 million to the company as a commission -- NT$50 million of which was later passed on to Liu.

Aside from the money from Chihching, the court found Liu had received NT$100 million from Tseng.

During the campaign for legislative speaker, investigators say Liu issued as many as 100 checks. Evidence suggests that at least 20 were to legislators.

"[Liu's] very concerned about this case. He has offered to explain himself to the District Prosecutor's Office but they have never responded [to his offer]," Liu's advisors said.

Liu said that he would further explain his side of the story once he had received his official letter of indictment from the prosecution.

In February last year before Tseng's trial, Taichung District Court Judge Chuang Shen-yuan (莊深淵) led investigators on a search of Liu's Taipei residence in connection with the multi-billion dollar scandal to which Liu had been linked.

The search occurred just 26 days before the presidential election, causing speculation as to whether the probe had political motives, especially given Liu's switch from the KMT to then-independent candidate James Soong's (宋楚瑜) camp.

"It's all political. It's not coincidental that [last year's] investigation happened so close to the presidential election. If I hadn't gotten involved in politics, I wouldn't be in so much trouble," Liu said.

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