Sun, Aug 13, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Prosecutors set to brief public on fund probe's findings


The first-stage probe into "possible irregularities" in the handling of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) special state affairs expenditure account is almost complete, the Taiwan High Prosecutors' Office (THPO) said yesterday.

"After more than a month of intensive investigations, we have accumulated a rich collection of data on the use of the president's special `state affairs fund' and plan to give a public briefing on our progress next week," a THPO official said.

The THPO formed a special task force in late June to investigate the case after receiving suspicious financial data and accounting records related to the president's special "state affairs fund" from the Ministry of Audit (MOA) under the Control Yuan.

Members of the task force confirmed for the first time yesterday that they have interviewed at least 20 people, including the Presidential Office accounting department staff, about the "state affairs" expenditure account.

Some of the task force mem-bers have visited the Presidential Office to gather information, including examining classified files. Nevertheless, they declined to confirm whether they had interviewed former Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成), Chen's former right-hand man. So far, only Lee Pi-chun (李碧君), the owner of a pharmaceutical company, has been listed as a suspect and barred from leaving the country.

Opposition politicians have accused Chen of using "fake invoices" to obtain reimbursement for special "state affairs" expenses after the MOA found irregularities in the Presidential Office accounting report.

Lee Pi-chun told the prosecutorial task force that she had given Grand Hyatt Hotel invoices to "other people" but that she had no idea why those invoices ended up in the accounting reports of the Presidential Office.

Lee denied that she has ever given the controversial invoices directly to first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍). Opposition lawmakers had alleged that Wu might have used the controversial invoices to help her husband reimburse the "state affairs fund." The president has repeatedly denied that he has pocketed a single cent from the fund.

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