Fri, Aug 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Auditors `abused' at Presidential Office

MORE ACCUSATIONS Ministry of Audit spokesman Wang Yung-hsing said the audit team sent to the office `suffered great pressure and insults' during their investigation

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Government auditors were subjected to insults while inspecting the special allowance expenditures of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at the Presidential Office, Ministry of Audit spokesman Wang Yung-hsing (王永興) said yesterday.

Wang made the remarks to the press after he met Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, who went to the ministry to show their support for its probe into pan-blue allegations that Chen embezzled money from a secret state fund.

Since the ministry concluded there might be irregularities in Chen's personal expenses, Wang has been under fire from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, who say the ministry has deliberately targeted the president.

The ministry reported that due to confidentiality concerns, the Presidential Office had refused to present investigators with enough receipts to cover all expenses claimed, and some parts of those receipts that were presented did not conform with relevant regulations.

KMT legislators sent the auditing team a board inscribed with the words "selflessness, conscience and fearlessness" to inspire them to stand up to the Presidential Office. The DPP condemned the move as an obstruction of due process.

"You should reveal everything you know," KMT Legislator Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said, responding to Wang's remarks to DPP legislators on Wednesday that "the truth about Chen's slush fund will put the DPP on the spot."

Wang told KMT legislators that when auditors asked for receipts used for reimbursing expenses, Presidential Office officials just gave them three envelopes.

"They didn't make it clear whether the envelopes had anything to do with our auditing. They told auditors that `If the contents of these envelopes gets out, people will die.' Did we dare take a look?" Wang said, adding that "auditors suffered great pressure and insults during the inspection."

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed the allegations.

"We've cooperated fully with the ministry's investigation and have never given them any pressure," said Presidential Office spokesman David Lee (李南陽).

Lee said they did not interfere with the ministry's investigation and the reason that they did not let auditors make copies of some of the documents was because they were confidential.

Lee said the ministry may have the wrong impression of the expenses system the Presidential Office uses, but the office was willing to resolve its concerns and establish a more transparent system.

Meanwhile, Wang yesterday was attacked by an anonymous letter faxed to the DPP legislative caucus office. The letter was signed by an unnamed official in the ministry.

The letter accused Wang of taking advantage of his job to have affairs with colleagues and officials in other government departments.

"I'm divorced. I am single now," Wang responded later yesterday.

Wang said yesterday that he had submitted his resignation, but the ministry's Auditor-Director Su Chen-ping (蘇振平) said he wanted Wang to stay on.

Wang said he wasn't resigning because of the dispute with the Presidential Office over the president's expense account, but because of his health.

In related developments, DPP spokesman Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) yesterday said the party would file a lawsuit against KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) because Chiu's accusation that the President had a "secret bank account" was untrue.

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