Thu, Jun 08, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Officials say Chen never met nation's top investigator

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed a media report claiming that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had met the Bureau of Investigation director-general last month amid the probe into alleged insider trading involving Chen's son-in-law.

"There was no such thing," said Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽), adding that bureau Director-General Yeh Sheng-mao (葉盛茂) denied the allegation yesterday morning.

Lee made the remark in response to a report in a Chinese-language newspaper, the United Daily News, which published an article yesterday with the headline: "Chen secretly meets investigation bureau chief at sensitive moment."

The report quoted an anonymous source as saying that Yeh's official vehicle was seen entering Chen's official residence on Chongqing S Road last month when prosecutors were gearing up their investigation into the alleged involvement of Chen's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), in insider trading.

While the source said the content of the two men's conversation was unknown, the report implied that Chen might have asked about the progress of the investigation and offered directives regarding the direction of inquiry.

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) yesterday accused first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) of reselling Pacific Sogo Department Store gift vouchers, which he claimed she was given in exchange for facilitating the transfer of the store's operation rights, to seven of her friends.

"The first lady resold the gift vouchers by giving them 10 percent discount. I have their names in hand," Chiu told a press conference yesterday, announcing five names.

While the allegations are still under judicial investigation, Chiu said he had learned from informants that Lee Heng-lung (李恆隆), owner of the building in which the Pacific Sogo Department Store is located, gave the vouchers to Wu indirectly.

Lee's vouchers were delivered to Wu through Chen Che-nan's wife Chen Koo Mei-kuei (陳辜美貴) and Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥), a doctor close to the first family, in April and September of 2002, and amounted to NT$5.33 million (US$165,300), he said.

Wang Hsing-hsu (王杏淑), named by Chiu as one of the seven people who bought vouchers from Wu, yesterday denied doing so.

"The seven-person group [buying the vouchers] was led by a woman surnamed Lin whose husband is a director of Country Hospital, surnamed Wang," Chiu said.

But Country Hospital yesterday said it didn't have a director surnamed Wang.

Chiu told another press conference later in the day that Wu had deposited large amounts of money at a Credit Suisse branch in Singapore under the name of a foundation belonging to her brother, Wu Ching-mao (吳景茂).

In related news, the KMT legislative caucus yesterday called on the Control Yuan to investigate allegations that the first couple had not reported any jewelry in declaring their assets.

The Act on Property Declaration by Public Servants (公職人員財產申報法) requires public officials to report each asset worth more than NT$200,000.

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