Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Domestic firms linked to Costa Rican scandal

DPA , SAN JOSE

Joan Musa, wife of Belize Prime Minister Said Musa, and her entourage visit the Tittot Glass Art Museum in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: LU CHUN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

An election financing scandal involving Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco broadened Wednesday when it was reported that funds from Taiwanese firms were illegally contributed to Pacheco's campaign.

According to the reports, two Taiwanese firms, Sunshine Co Ltd and Pacific Co Ltd, sent donations of US$300,000 to a private account opened by Pacheco's team in neighboring Panama.

Those transactions surfaced after the Panama branch of the Banco Internacional de Costa Rica (Bicsa) handed copies of the deposit slips to a legislative committee investigating alleged illegal financing in the Pacheco campaign, the reports said.

Pacheco, together with another seven leaders from Central America and the Dominican Republic, is in Taiwan to take part in a biannual summit yesterday with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

In remarks made to the local newspaper, La Nacion, Pacheco denied any knowledge of the Taiwanese firms' donations. "It is a subject that I did not handle and neither was I present," he said.

The accusations of private contributions to Pacheco's campaign surfaced when an opposition lawmaker charged that an account in the then-candidate's name had received large transfers in the months prior to the election in February last year.

The lawmaker charged that most of the funds were not reported to election officials, as they must be under the law.

Pacheco made light of the allegations, saying the donations by Taiwanese firms were probably motivated by "good intentions," and that there was no evidence of influence peddling.

"If a favor given to those firms in exchange for those donations surfaces, then it would be worrisome," he said.

"I know there are world institutions that give money to democracies of the world to maintain them. I don't see anything wrong with that," Pacheco said.

In response to the allegations, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) said yesterday he had no knowledge of the deal and that all financial aid projects from Taiwan's government are conducted on a government-to-government level.

"All of our international aid projects are conducted at the government level, mostly for the purpose of infrastructure developments. They are not intended for the use of any person or political party," Chien said.

"In addition, all budgets for financial aid for our diplomatic allies are under the scrutiny of the legislature," Chien said.

additional reporting by Chang Yun-ping

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