Thu, Nov 16, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ministry of Audit's impartiality questioned

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Audit was left with egg on its face on Tuesday after prosecutors questioned Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over the administration of his special expense fund, despite the ministry having previously assured the public that there were no irregularities.

Before prosecutors questioned Ma on the matter on Tuesday, Ministry of Audit Spokesman Wang Yung-hsing (王永興) came out in support of the mayor on Sept. 12 when he told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that the ministry "found no illegalities after investigating the use of Ma's special allowance fund."

Wang was forced to make an about face yesterday and said that the ministry would re-investigate the case if inspectors found that invalid receipts had been submitted for reimbursement.

Wang said the ministry had sent its inspectors to investigate after a member of the Taipei City Government's staff admitted on Tuesday that he had substituted his own receipts for larger amounts for several receipts for smaller amounts to reduce his paperwork.

"We were very surprised [by the staffer's remarks]. During our previous inspection, we reviewed the receipts that [the city government] provided to us. There was no reason for us to doubt the authenticity of the receipts [at the time]," Wang said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators have accused the ministry of adopting double standards in its investigations into President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "state affairs fund" and Ma's special allowance fund.

DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) yesterday accused the ministry of helping Ma to cover up irregularities in the administration of his special allowance fund.

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