Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 2 News List

`Not guilty' ruling upheld for ex-navy commander

CLEARED The High Court upheld an earlier decision that Yeh Chang-tung had not tried to cover up a scandal when he recommended that two officials should leave the navy

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan High Court yesterday found former navy commander-in-chief Yeh Chang-tung (葉昌桐) not guilty of covering up a scandal that involved skimming money from a navy fund for buying minesweepers.

The court upheld a Taipei District Court ruling that the retired admiral had done nothing wrong when he agreed to a proposal from his subordinates to ask Lieutenant-Commander Peng Chi-kang (彭繼岡) and Commander Yuan Yu-fan (袁友范) to leave the navy, rather than face prosecution.

Yuan had been accused of depositing embezzled money in an account controlled by Peng so that he could take the interest it accrued.

Peng had said that he did not know the money was embezzled from the navy. But yesterday the Taiwan High Court rejected that argument and sentenced Peng to one year and two months in jail for offenses relating to illegally obtained property.

The ruling said "Peng knew that Yuan's depositing money to his account was illegal, but he still kept the money for Yuan."

The ruling added that although Yuan has faced charges of corruption and forgery in the military courts, because he was retired his lawsuit will be transferred and heard by the Taipei District Court.

The high court ruling said Yuan had been in charge of the navy's minesweeper procurement program since 1988, when he served at Navy General Headquarters.

At that time, Peng was stationed in Germany to arrange weapons procurement.

Yuan in 1991 forged documents that allowed him to draw US$329,681 in interest from the minesweeper deal's fund deposited at the UK-based London Bank.

Yuan then deposited that money into Peng's personal account at the Germany-based Bremen Bank.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office's indictment had said that Yeh, when he discovered Yuan's alleged misdeeds, approved an illegal proposal that Yuan should receive administrative discipline and leave the navy.

The navy's discipline section proposed two options for punishing Yuan: either force him to face criminal proceedings or hand down administrative disciplinary measures and force him to retire from the navy.

The navy decided on the second option, and Yuan left the military without being prosecuted.

Despite the controversy, according to naval officials, the purchase of four German "MWW-50" minesweepers in 1988 has enhanced the navy's capabilities on anti-mine warfare.

Yuan's transactions were exposed in the course of the Lafayette-class frigate scandal that erupted after the murder of navy Captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓) in 1993.

Yin is widely believed to have been killed because he was about to blow the whistle on colleagues for taking kickbacks from the sale of French frigates to Taiwan.

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