Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Eight of Mayor Ma's aides summoned for questioning

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Prosecutors yesterday summoned another eight close aides of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for questioning over the alleged misuse of the mayor's special allowance.

The eight included Ma's secretary Yu Wen (余文) and security officer Lin Yu-chen (林友振), with Taiwan High Court Black Gold Investigation Center Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (侯寬仁) conducting the questioning at the Bureau of Investigation's Taipei branch office.

While Hou declined to comment on the results of the questioning, the bureau said that it was carried out to check some evidence and statements before the investigation is concluded and a decision is made.

Asked whether Ma would be summoned and questioned again in the near future, both the bureau and Hou refused to comment.

Ma became the subject of an investigation after Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers accused him of spending NT$79,700 (US$2,430) from the mayor's special allowance on his dog.

The lawmakers also accused him of embezzling half of his special monthly mayoral allowance, or NT$170,000, by having the funds wired directly into his personal account every month.

Ma has admitted to using money from the fund to adopt a dog, but said that the bill came to only NT$9,900 and that he had repaid the amount. He has also acknowledged that half of the mayoral allowance had been deposited to his personal account every month and that he had included the money in his annual assets declaration.

In response to the prosecutors' questioning of his bodyguards, Ma yesterday argued that "it's normal" that receipts from their expenses were included in applications for reimbursement from the mayoral allowance.

"Those receipts were used for public affairs, such as their meals ... They paid the bills first with their own money and later applied for reimbursement," Ma said in response to a press query while attending a municipal event.

Ma said that his bodyguards' applications for reimbursement were conducted legally, adding that the prosecutors understood this and that there should be no problem in including their receipts.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

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