Thu, Aug 09, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Vice minister of Economic Affairs detained for bribery

AFP , TAIPEI

The Nantou District Court yesterday detained Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Hou Ho-shong (侯和雄) on charges of taking bribes, a prosecutor said.

Hou, 63, who was arrested on Tuesday, was questioned overnight after his office and home were searched by agents from the Bureau of Investigation.

He is suspected to have played a role in seven flood-control construction corruption cases.

The Nantou District Court yesterday approved the detention to enable further investigation.

"Hou is charged with influence peddling, which is a serious crime. The court decided to allow extended detention to avoid collaboration among suspects [involved in the same case]," prosecutor Wu Tso-yen (吳祚延) said.

A contractor was also detained after initial questioning while three others, including two government officials and a contractor, were released on bail, he said.

Following Hou's detention, Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) announced that he had suspended Hou in accordance with the Law on Discipline of Civil Servants (公務人員懲戒法).

Ministry affairs under Hou's supervision will be temporarily distributed to two other vice economic ministers, Shih Yen-hsiang (施顏祥) and Hsieh Fa-tah (謝發達), Chen said.

Meanwhile, the duties of Taiwan Water Corp vice president Yang Shui-yuan (楊水源) and Chang Yi-min (張義敏), director of the Water Resources Agency's second river management office, will be adjusted to avoid a conflict of interest, Chen said.

Yang and Chang are also suspected of involvement in the bid-rigging on the construction projects.

A series of high-profile corruption scandals have rocked the country recently.

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), is on trial on corruption and forgery charges for embezzling NT$14.8 million (US$450,000) from state funds.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential hopeful Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is also on trial for allegedly misusing more than NT$11 million from an expense account during his tenure as Taipei mayor.

Additional reporting by Jessie Ho

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