Sun, Jan 22, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Probe begun into conduct of Kaohsiung prosecutor

INVESTIGATING THE INVESTIGATOR Ling Po-chih is suspected of giving tips on how to elude justice to a former trade official who allegedly engaged in fraud

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Justice yesterday said it has launched a probe into the head of Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office, for allegedly coaching a former government official suspected of fraud on how to throw investigators off the trail.

The head of the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office Ling Po-chih (凌博志), who is also the convener of a probe into the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal, is alleged to have advised then Fair Trade Commission vice chairman Chen Chi-yuan (陳紀元), who was accused of defrauding the Ministry of Economic Affairs of more than NT$500 million (US$15.7 million).

Chen stepped down in December 2004 because of the investigation.

"The ministry has launched an investigation into Ling. He will be disciplined if he is found to have had improper contact with the defendant, Chen," Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) said in a press statement yesterday.

"The ministry requires that high-ranking prosecutors behave ethically," he added.

Taipei prosecutors and agents from the ministry's investigation bureau began to probe Chen in late 2004.

They found that Ling, who was then head of Taipei County's Banciao (板橋) District Prosecutors' Office, had communicated with Chen by phone on numerous occasions and discussed the investigation, according to local Chinese-language newspaper reports.

The agents discovered that Ling and Chen met several times at coffee shops near the office of the Fair Trade Commission. Agents sat at a table next to them, recording their conversations, local media reported.

On one occasion, they met the day after Chen's wife was released on bail for involvement in defrauding the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The newspapers said that Ling taught Chen how to cover up his crimes even as his fellow prosecutors were trying to probe into them.

Ling yesterday said that he knew Chen and that they had spoken occasionally.

"But after Chen was released on bail in the corruption probe, we rarely contacted each other," Ling said.

Chen is accused of defrauding the Ministry of Economic Affairs of over NT$500 million in public funds through collusion with more than 30 companies via a consultancy, CYCHEN Management Associates Inc, which he chaired between 1998 and 2003.

The firm was allegedly involved in several of the ministry's projects during that period.

Five controversial development projects with expenditures totalling NT$1 billion, included improvement schemes for roadside vendors and other renovation plans.

Chen was released on bail of NT$300,000 in December 2004, and the investigation is still underway.

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