Fri, Aug 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Slush fund suspect barred from leaving Taiwan

CNA , TAIPEI

The owner of a pharmaceutical company was listed as a suspect and barred from leaving the country early yesterday after being questioned by investigators in connection with the controversy over President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) use of a special "state affairs fund."

Lee Pi-chun (李碧君) told investigators that she had given Hyatt Hotel invoices to "other people" but that she had no idea how those invoices had ended up in the accounting reports of the Presidential Office.

Opposition politicians have charged that the president used "fake invoices" to claim his "state affairs" expenses after the National Audit Office found irregularities in Presidential Office accounts.

Lee also admitted that some of the invoices she handed out belonged to her cousin Ligi Lee (李慧芬), a businesswoman in Australia who has claimed she would come back to Taiwan to give testimony about how her receipts and invoices had been "abused" by corrupt officials.

Lee Pi-chun denied that she had ever given the controversial invoices directly to first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) who might have used them to help her husband claim the "state affairs" expenses. The president has denied that he pocketed a single dollar from the fund budgeted for his discretionary use.

Taiwan High Court prosecutors will summon accounting department staff from the Presidential Office and other witnesses as they continue their investigations into alleged irregularities in connection with the "state affairs fund."

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