Thu, Jun 15, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Eslite chief Wu grilled over deposit

BID RIGGING?Bookstore boss Robert Wu was asked again whether cash he paid into Chao Chien-ming's father's bank account was related to a hospital bid

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eslite Books chairman Robert Wu (吳清友) was summoned again yesterday for questioning by prosecutors eager to learn if there was any connection between his deposit of a large sum of money into the bank account of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) in-laws and the decision to award Eslite the contract for a hospital bookstore.

As investigators sift through the bank records of Chen's son in-law, Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), and his family, prosecutors discovered that Chao's father Chao Yu-chu (趙玉柱) received NT$10 million (US$308,166) from Wu in 2003.

Taipei District Prosecutors' Office spokesman Lin Pang-liang (林邦樑) yesterday said: "Wu insisted to the prosecutors that the money was a `donation' to the Taiwan Table Tennis Association which he deposited into the head of the association Chao Yu-chu's bank account."

Wu was later released.

He told reporters that: "Chao Yu-chu ought to feel ashamed if he really did embezzle the money [that I donated to the association]."

Prosecutors however suspect the money may be related to Eslite Books winning a bid to open a bookstore at National Taiwan University Hospital in 2003.

Lin said prosecutors had come to the hospital on Tuesday to seize documents as part of the probe.

In 2002, a number of companies entered the bidding to open a store at the hospital's new store complex.

While three companies including Dachan Greatwall Group, Uni-President Corp and Medlight Corp obtained a priority to negotiate the opening of a store with the hospital, Elite Books surprisingly won the bidding in 2003.

Because Wu's company won the bidding only one month after he had deposited NT$10 million into Chao Yu-chu's bank account, and because Chao Chien-ming was a doctor at the hospital, prosecutors were trying to learn whether the money was a bribe aimed at helping Wu win the bid.

Wu yesterday said the opening of the bookstore in the hospital was legal and above board.

Chao Yu-chu was released on NT$2 million bail last week, but he has been prohibited from leaving the country.

Lin had said Chao Yu-chu had failed to explain why the money was still in his account.

Meanwhile, Taipei District Court yesterday rejected Chao Chien-ming's latest application for bail. Chao is being detained on suspicion of insider trading involving shares in Taiwan Development Corp (TDC).

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