Sun, Sep 22, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Former lawmaker Wong denies role in latest scandal

MIDDLE MAN The developer behind the Zanadau project says the KMT stalwart took bribes to help project get loans

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former KMT legislator Wong Chong-chun has been implicated in the widening Zanadau land deal scandal.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

The uproar surrounding the Zanadau scandal has put former KMT lawmaker Wong Chung-chun (翁重鈞) back in the media spotlight.

A four-term legislator and failed candidate for Chiayi County commissioner, Wong has roundly denied any part in an alleged influence-peddling scheme to facilitate construction of the giant Zanadau shopping mall in Kaohsiung County.

Su Hui-chen (蘇惠珍), the main shareholder of Zanadau Development Corp, told a news conference last Monday that Wong helped her remove obstacles in the legislature that were preventing state-owned Taifertilizer from investing in Zanadau back in 1998.

Su made the revelation to back up her claims that former KMT business affairs manager Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英) and his agent Lee Ming-che (李明哲) jointly bilked more than NT$1 billion from her in a phony pledge to help secure bank loans.

Wong, however, denied the accusations. "Heaven forbid if I had ever got a dime from Su," Wong said later the same day. He urged reporters to check legislative records on his stance over the matter and challenged the businesswoman to identify his former colleagues who reportedly accept bribes from him.

According to Su, Wong helped pass out 10 checks of NT$5 million each to members of a legislative panel that was reviewing the planned sales of Taifertilizer shares in June 1998.

"On Lee's advice, I agreed to placate lawmakers in the hope that Taifertilizer would invest in Zanadau without delay. Investigators can learn their identities by questioning Wong and Lee," said Su, desperate to settle accounts with Liu and Lee.

Legislative records show that Wong and then-DPP lawmaker Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) spoke against the scheduled privatization of Taifertilizer on grounds the price set for its shares was too low.

"I was firmly against the sale of Taifertilizer at that time," said Wong, who belongs to the Yellow faction of Chiayi County. "That being so, I could not have taken bribes from Su or helped her buy off other lawmakers."

The ad hoc committee drew members from across party lines, including incumbent DPP lawmakers Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌), Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and Lin Wen-lang (林文郎). Former KMT legislators Gary Wang (王令麟), Wu Ko-ching (吳克清) and Chen Ching-pao (陳清寶) also sat on the 17-member panel, as did former New Party colleagues Josephine Chu (朱惠良), Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) and Stella Chou (周荃).

But the now cash-strapped Su said those who opposed the privatization of Taifertilizer all took her money. After holding three meetings, the legislative panel decided not to continue the boycott othe state-run company, records show.

Taifertilizer owns 10 percent of the Zanadau venture, a huge complex that spans an 11-hectare commercial zone featuring a golf course and a man-made skiing playground, in addition to the shopping mall.

Insisting he is innocent, Wong called a news conference in the legislature on Wednesday. He said he would do the best he could to help investigators probe the Zanadau case.

"I have never engaged in anything illegal during my 20-year political career," he said in the company of KMT legislative whip Lee Chuan-chia (李全教). "I'm willing to go through the strictest scrutiny by the authorities so my innocence may be upheld."

He claimed that the biggest beneficiaries of the Zanadau project are DPP members and urged incumbent lawmakers named in the controversy to waive their right to be free from prosecution.

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