Wed, Feb 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

KMT accuses presidency of secret deal

SUSPICION A legislator claimed that a businessman had paid NT$20 million to arrange a meeting with a DPP heavyweight, who was to help him with his financial woes

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator yesterday accused the Presidential Office of making a secret deal with business tycoons to aid the former head of the struggling Pacific SOGO Department Store.

The Presidential Office immediately denied the allegation, saying that such groundless speculation would just damage the pan-blue camp's reputation and asking the public to condemn the accusation in the strongest terms.

KMT Legislator Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) displayed copies of four checks at a press conference yesterday which he said proved that Chang Min-chiang (章明強), head of the Pacific Group, paid a total of NT$20 million to the owner of Pacific Distribution Investment Co, Lee Leng-lung (李恆隆), from 2001 to 2002.

"Chang said that he paid the money to Lee Leng-lung in exchange for arranging a meeting with heavyweights of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)," Lee Chuan-chiao said.

"Chang said that Lee Leng-lung had arranged a meeting with someone at the Presidential Office who promised to assist Chang in keeping the ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store," the legislator said.

However, Lee Chuan-chiao said, the SOGO Department Store was ultimately acquired by the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團), and former Government Information Office head Chung Chin (鍾琴) was invited to serve as the new chairwoman.

"Chang was really upset and that's why he gave me this information. He asked me to let people know that the Presidential Office took his money but did nothing in return," Lee Chuan-chiao said.

He said that the three open let-ters recently published by former Tuntex Group chairman Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪) referred to a "business tycoon surnamed Lee," who is allowed to freely enter the Presidential Office to tuck into dumplings with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). He claimed that Chen Yu-hao was referring to Lee Leng-lung.

Lee Chuan-chiao claimed that Chang Min-chiang's NT$20 million finally ended up in the bank account of Chen Shui-bian's Formosa Foundation.

Responding to the allegation, Presidential Office Spokesman James Huang (黃志芳) told reporters that Lee's story was not only completely ridiculous but also irresponsible.

"Lee Chuan-chiao first attacks us and then asks us to prove our innocence. His behavior is that of an irresponsible politician," Huang said.

He denied the allegations of a "dumpling lunch" with the president and said that the Formosa Foundation's financial records would prove that it has had no dealings with the two tycoons.

"The financial transaction between Chang and Lee has nothing to do with the Presidential Office. The Formosa Foundation is under the administration of the Taipei City Government and anyone can check its financial records if they do not believe me," Huang said.

"We therefore ask the leaders of the pan-blue camp -- KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and his running mate [People First Party Chairman] James Soong (宋楚瑜), who signed a pledge to stick to decent campaigning on Monday -- to show their sincerity about abiding by the agreement by restraining members of its campaign staff from continue negative politics," Huang said.

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