Thu, Apr 27, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers query first lady's investment trust

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislators from several parties lashed out yesterday at first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) for gains made after her assets were put into trust, adding that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) pledge to stay away from the stock market was a lie.

"Given that Chen announced during his re-election that his family members would not buy and sell stocks from then on, why did Wu still buy Fubon No. 1 REIT with a face value of about NT$40 million?" Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) said.

Lo made the remarks in a meeting of the legislature's Finance Committee. His comments were echoed by other legislators.

According to the latest report on public officials' assets released by the Control Yuan on Tuesday, Wu had NT$48.32 million in stocks, up from the NT$8.19 million declared in a June 11, 2004 report.

Tuesday's report also showed that the first couple's savings had dropped to NT$3.31 million from the NT$42 million they declared on Nov. 7 last year.

If Wu retained the right to make decisions about her investments even after she put her stock assets into a trust, then it was not a real trust, Lo said.

"If the members of the first family were still involved in the stock market, it was no wonder that they were accused of speculating in stocks," Lo said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) said that buying shares in Fubon No. 1 REIT as an investment was not such a big deal.

The problem, he said, was the heads of the Fubon group have been very close to the first family.

"Given that close relationship, Wu's purchase of Fubon No. 1 REIT shares would inevitably arouse suspicion about the possibility of insider trading," Fai said.

People First Party Legislator Wu ching-chih (吳清池) said he didn't understand why Wu had not stopped making stock investments.

"I thought the first family was already very rich. The president should be able to do a better job of reining in Wu's investments," Wu said.

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed speculation that Wu was still playing the stock market, saying she used NT$40 million to purchase mutual funds, not shares.

"The first lady has not bought more stocks since putting her assets into trust in 2004," the Presidential Office's Department of Public Affairs said in a statement. "To invest in mutual funds is not against the spirit of the law, nor is it an excessive investment in stocks."

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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