Wed, Nov 08, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office in crisis: KMT queries Chen's claim

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday questioned President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) claim that he had borrowed money from a friend for use in the nation's diplomatic projects.

First lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and three presidential aides were indicted by prosecutors last Friday for various charges related to usage of Chen's "state affairs fund."

According to prosecutors, Wu is suspected of using false receipts from a number of people, including members of the first family, to have her personal expenses reimbursed from the fund.

In the indictment, Chen said that his friend Vincent Hwang (黃維生) had given him NT$4.5 million (US$136,529) in 2002 and 2003 for two diplomatic projects and some of the receipts Wu provided for reimbursement of the fund were used to pay back Hwang.

Hwang, now the chairman of the Small and Medium Business Credit Guarantee Fund, has been a long-term donor of Chen's ever since he was Taipei mayor.

Chen said in the indictment that he had returned NT$2.5 million to Hwang using the money Wu had reimbursed from the fund, and he still owed Hwang NT$ 2 million.

Prosecutors, however, disregarded Chen's explanation, saying that the loan from Hwang had nothing to do with the state fund and that the story was part of Chen's cover-up.

In Chen's rebuttal to the indictment, made on Sunday night in a televised press conference, Chen said if he was corrupt he could have pocketed the NT$4.5million and not bothered reimbursing Hwang from the fund.

Calling into question to Chen's explanation, KMT lawmakers yesterday told a press conference that they doubted the president needed to borrow money from his friend.

KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said that what Chen had said about the money was "illogical" because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Bureau had a surplus from their budget almost every year and the president could have used those funds.

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