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Fri, Dec 28, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Control Yuan on trail of Mirage scandal

ACTION TAKEN A report in a French newspaper prompted New Party legislator Elmer Fung to petition the Control Yuan on Oct. 30 to investigate allegations of kickbacks

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Control Yuan yesterday confirmed that it set up a special committee last week to investigate news reports that the air force's 1992 deal to purchase 60 Mirage fighter jets involved the payment of kickbacks.

A report in a French newspaper prompted New Party lawmaker Elmer Fung (馮滬祥) to petition the Control Yuan on Oct. 30 to investigate allegations of kickbacks.

Control Yuan member Chao Chang-pin (趙昌平) yesterday told the Taipei Times that the special committee had been established last week and that it was similar to the committee investigating the Lafayette frigate scandal.

Chao said the group comprises five Control Yuan members -- himself, Liao Jiann-nan (廖健男), Ma Yi-kung (馬以工), Ku Den-mei (古登美) and Lin Shih-chi (林時機). Ma and Ku are also members of the committee investigating the Lafayette scandal.

Chao said that Vice Minister of Defense Chen Pi-chao (陳必照) and the deputy commander-in-chief of the air force, Huang Rong-zhang (黃榮章) last week took defense ministry and Air Force officials to the Control Yuan to brief Control Yuan members on the details of the Mirage-2000 deal, which was completed in 1992.

According to Chao, Chen said that no kickbacks had been paid to seal the deal.

But he added that "the denial itself is insufficient to convince the public. Since the Ministry of National Defense has not investigated the deal, its attitude is not acceptable."

After the briefing, the Control Yuan members officially formed the special committee on the grounds that the defense ministry had not provided an adequate explanation.

According to several reports in Taiwan's Chinese-language media, the Mirage-2000-5 model which Taiwan purchased cost twice as much as the basic Mirage-2000 model.

The original purchase price per aircraft was to have been NT$42 million, but an increase in that price subsequently caused the Legislative Yuan to budget a further NT$10 billion to purchase the 60 fighters.

When Fung petitioned the Control Yuan to investigate the allegations he also demanded an explanation from former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who, a recent book claims, made the decision to go ahead with the deal in 1992.

"A Mirage-2000 is twice as expensive as an F-16," Feng had said. "Obviously it was a bad decision by Lee which cost the government more money [than necessary]. The products were not as good as we had expected. I think Lee should explain whether there was any personal interest or favoritism involved."

Fung quoted an Oct. 30 article in the French newspaper Le Monde. According to the story, French investigators froze the Swiss bank accounts of Andrew Wang (汪傳浦) -- the former Taiwan agent of French frigate-maker Thomson CSF, now called Thales, and fighter- maker Dasault Aviation -- after suspecting that he had earned NT$11.4 billion in kickbacks connected with the Mirage deal.

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