Sat, Nov 18, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma aide details role in receipt fraud

OVERWORKED?The Taipei City Government staffer who has admitted to submitting fraudulent receipts said that no one else was involved and he was not trying to steal

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Government staffer Yu Wen (余文), who has admitted to submitting fraudulent receipts used in the accounting for Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) special allowance fund, yesterday sought to clarify his role.

"I did not intend to pocket the allowance," Yu said at Taipei City Hall.

"The whole thing was at my sole discretion, and I didn't realize it was a huge mistake until I was questioned ... I made a mistake and I will take responsibility," he said.

Yu returned to work yesterday after a two-day absence.

Yu, a staffer who handled reimbursements for the mayor's special allowance fund, was found last month to have been substituting personal receipts for large amounts in lieu of official receipts for small amounts for almost three years, in an effort to reduce his paperwork.

After Yu admitted to submitting fraudulent receipts in October, the city government spent two days searching for the bogus receipts, and found between 80 and 90 of them amounting to around NT$80,000 among 3,754 receipts totaling around NT$141,000, in the basement on Nov. 11.

In response to accusations from Democratic Progressive Party legislators that more than one staffer in the mayor's office was involved, Yu said he collected receipts from colleagues "on rare occasions," but that none of the staffers knew what he was doing with the receipts.

"They never asked me what I needed the receipts for, and so I did not tell them ... None of the senior officials apart from me knew about it," he told the press, who mobbed him in front of his office.

Yu said he had already "explained the matter honestly" to prosecutors, and felt much less pressure now.

When asked about some of the items on the receipts found by the prosecutors, such as women's shoes or sanitary pads, Yu said he did not consider the items on the receipts, and so some receipts had items clearly not related to municipal affairs.

Arguing that he had a heavy workload aside from handling the allowance reimbursements, including taking complaint calls from Taipei residents, Yu dismissed DPP legislators' accusations that he should have had enough time to handle about four receipts every day.

"I have a pretty heavy workload, and would not deal with receipts every day," he said.

"People who request reimbursement don't necessarily give me the receipt on the day they spent the money," he said.

Yu said Ma had not spoken to him or give him any pressure since he admitted to submitting the fraudulent receipts, and that it was his decision to explain the matter to the media.

Yu was listed as a defendant on charges of forgery and corruption after being questioned by prosecutors on Wednesday, and has been on leave since Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ma yesterday confirmed that two deputy mayors, King Pu-tseng (金溥聰) and Chen Yu-chang (陳裕璋) have already asked to be disciplined for failing to prevent the fraud.

"We are still clarifying the situation, and I will make a decision as soon as possible," he said.

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