Fri, Nov 03, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Auditor-General Su met Chen Shui-bian during investigation

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Auditor-General Su Chen-ping (蘇振平) yesterday told lawmakers that he was asked to meet with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) during the period when government auditors were investigating Chen's alleged embezzlement of a state fund.

"I went to the Presidential Office three times in two weeks and met Chen twice," Su said, adding that the president wanted to meet him to exchange ideas rather than exert pressure concerning the auditors' investigation.

Su made the remarks when answering a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) in the Legislature's Budget and Final Accounts Committee.

Su said his meetings with the president were arranged by Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山).

Lai and other pan-blue lawmakers, however, blasted Mark Chen for arranging such meetings and demanded his resignation for the matter.

"It's the ministry's statutory right to audit the government's accounts. As the head of government auditors, how could you have access to the Presidential Office's service at any time?" KMT Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) said.

"I agreed to go there merely out of respect for the president. I didn't feel pressured." Su told Lee.

The Ministry of Audit concluded in July that reimbursements from the state fund might contain irregularities.

Lai demanded that the ministry ask the president to return the money he had spent to the national coffers given the irregularities, but Su said that the ministry would only do that if the president were found guilty by a court.

Su also told lawmakers that Mark Chen had asked the ministry to charge one of the auditors during the audit investigation, but he denied that the reason was the original auditor, surnamed Tsai, wasn't to Mark Chen's liking as local media suspected.

It was because Tsai was planning to attend a vocational training shortly after the investigation started, and had therefore asked that the Presidential Office provide the necessary documents to him at the earliest convenience, Su said.

"Mark Chen told me that the Presidential Office needed more time to prepare the necessary documents, so we asked another auditor to replace Tsai," Su said.

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