Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Bureaus defend handling of Rebar case

POWERLESS The National Security Bureau and the MOJ's Investigation Bureau told legislators that they had no way of stopping Rebar fugitive Wang You-theng fleeing

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Law enforcement authorities yesterday defended their handling of a financial scandal after being called to account in the legislature.

Officials from the National Security Bureau (NSB) yesterday said that they did not know the whereabouts of fugitive Rebar Group founder Wang You-theng (王又曾), while officials from the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau (MJIB) said that they had been unable to bar him from leaving the country because of insufficient evidence.

NSB Deputy Director Yang Kuo-chiang (楊國強) told the legislature's Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday morning that his bureau was unaware of the whereabouts of Wang, chairman of Rebar Asia Pacific Group (力霸亞太企業集團), because it was not its job to keep track of white-collar criminals.

Deputy Director of MJIB Wu Ying (吳瑛) revealed that they first suspected two of the Rebar Group's affiliate companies of financial irregularities in 2005 and asked prosecutors to conduct a probe into the matter.

The Financial Supervisory Commission informed them on Nov. 15 and Nov. 23 last year of two more companies belonging to the group that they suspected of infringements.

As the operations of the Rebar Group were quite complicated, Wu said that his organization had needed more time to obtain a better understanding of the matter.

They could not prohibit Wang from leaving the country even if they had known his intention because they did not have any reason to do so. Apart from Wang, Wu said that the bureau had banned 48 people believed to be involved in the Rebar scandal from leaving the country since Jan. 6.

Visibly unhappy with the Investigation Bureau's handling of the matter, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) called Wu "incompetent," and said that the media could have done a better job of locating Wang.

"While you know nothing about where Wang is, you manage to keep good track of political leaders' activities," Lai said.

Lai questioned the NSB over its alleged recruitment of legislative assistants and reporters to collect intelligence for them and the tapping of politicians' phones. Yang, however, dismissed Lai's allegations, saying that the bureau had maintained administrative neutrality since it was institutionalized in 1994.

"I hereby solemnly swear that we don't do such things," he said. "If we did, the bureau chief and those involved would step down to shoulder responsibility."

Yang said that they conduct surveillance only on certain people and they do it in accordance with the law.

In other words, they must obtain the approval of the Supreme Court Prosecutor General's Office before engaging in such activity, he said.

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