Tue, May 30, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Scandal will fade, foreign minister says

EPHEMERAL James Huang said that reports about the president's son-in-law may have dented the nation's image, but could not detract from its respect for the law

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Minister of Finance Joseph Lyu, center, speaks to the media yesterday as he leaves the Taipei Prosecutors' Office after being questioned about the case of alleged insider trading involving President Chen Shui-bian's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming. Chao, who has been in detention since Thursday, is suspected of pressing local banks to extend loans to a debt-ridden firm via Lyu.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The negative impact, if any, on the country's image from the scandal surrounding the president's son-in-law won't last long, Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said yesterday.

While reporting to the Legislative Yuan's Foreign Affairs Committee on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent visit to Latin American allies, Huang was questioned on whether the detention of Chen's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), would hurt the nation's image

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) said that the international media had prominently reported on Chao's detention for suspected insider trading last Thursday, and asked if this had had any effect on the nation's image.

Huang replied that he had noticed the reports on Chao's detention, which he called an "unfortunate event," and said that it might have dented the nation's image slightly.

However, this would only be a short-term phenomenon, he added.

Huang said that when he received a Canadian parliamentary delegation last week, members of the delegation expressed admiration for Taiwan's democracy.

He said that corruption was "an issue of human nature," while "democracy is an institution."

No one could deny that Taiwan was upholding democracy or could challenge its adherence to the rule of law because of an isolated case, Huang said.

Meanwhile, pan-blue legislators yesterday accused Chao of also being involved in suspicious real-estate deals.

KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said that Chao had bought a villa in Tokyo's Kaminoge neighborhood, which he said was worth more than NT$100 million (US$3.1 million).

"Chao has to explain why he was able to afford such a villa," Chiu said.

He said that Chao's villa was near to a villa owned by the Koo Group, one of Taiwan's largest financial conglomerates.

Chiu said he suspected that Chao's villa had been sponsored by the Koo Group.

Chiu said that Chao has been very enthusiastic about real-estate investment.

He said Chao had earned more than NT$50 million by buying an apartment at The Palace (帝寶), one of the nation's most expensive residential areas, at a discount of 60 percent and selling it at 10 percent below the market value.

"Chao bought the apartment and then businessman Yu Shih-yi (游世一) helped him to find a buyer," Chiu said.

Yu, who is also under detention in connection with the insider trading scandal, is a former president of Broadband Housing Information.

Chiu also accused Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) of involvement in the insider trading scandal, and demanded that prosecutors summon Ma for questioning.

Chiu said that the appointment of Taiwan Development Corp (TDC) chairman Su Teh-jien (蘇德建) had been decided by Ma.

Ma also pressured the state-owned Bank of Taiwan into leading a syndicate of 29 banks to offer a NT$16.5 billion loan to TDC, Chiu said.

In response, Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽) yesterday said that Ma did not know Su, and that the heads of state-run enterprises were appointed by the Cabinet.

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