Thu, Aug 17, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office debunks rumor about Lu

WRONG TARGET An office deputy suggested that the media check out the office of the Taipei mayor instead as it gets the largest allowance

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed a media allegation that Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) receives approximately NT$4 million (US$125,000) a year from the president's special allowance fund.

"We'd like the media to double check the facts first before making any allegation," the Presidential Office said in a statement issued yesterday.

The Presidential Office's statement was made in response to an article published yesterday in the Chinese-language United Daily News.

Its headline said that Lu receives NT$4 million from the special allowance fund annually. The story claimed that Lu receives an annual allowance of NT$2 million on top of the NT$150,000 allocated to her per month from the president's special allowance fund, or NT$1.8 million a year.

Instead of NT$4 million, the statement said that Lu receives about NT$1.8 million a year from President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) special allowance fund, or NT$150,000 a month. The statement, however, did not say how much allowance Lu herself gets.

Deputy Presidential Office Spokesperson Cho Chun-ying (卓春英) said that Lu gets an allowance of about NT$200,000 a month, or NT$2.4 million a year.

Cho said that the Taipei mayor has the highest special allowance among government officials and called on a thorough overhaul of the system instead of pointing fingers at the president and vice president.

In related news, a creditor of a key figure in the embezzlement allegations surrounding the first family came forward yesterday to demand payment from his debtor, threatening to take action if she fails to do so.

Hung Ching-feng (洪清峰), the owner of a fabric factory, said at a press conference held at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus office that Ligi Lee (李慧芬) owed him about NT$100,000 and has been avoiding him since March.

"She told me that she would come back to Taiwan to settle the matter in May when I called her in April," he said. "She then postponed it to June and then July."

Hung said that he suspected that Lee did not want to settle the matter and had been deceiving him on purpose.

"If I could get to the airport or the prosecutors' office to demand the money from her, I would," he said.

According to a report by the Chinese-language Next magazine, Lee is deeply in debt.

Lee, a chairwoman of Taiwan Ang Co Ltd, is a Taiwanese fashion designer based in Australia.

The report said that either Lee or her company had bounced checks since February and Lee had not been able to make any bank loans.

The report also alleged that Lee didn't offer health and labor insurance to her employees.

Calling Lee a "liar," DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) yesterday said the money Lee owed Hung was just the tip of the iceberg and urged Lee to tell the public how much money she owed the bank and her creditors.

He also asked the administration to prevent Lee from leaving the country until she settles her debts or simply ban her from returning home again.

Lawyer Chuang Ruey-hsiung (莊瑞雄) recommended Hung file an injunction on the "valuables" that Lee brought back with her in two large bags.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan

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