Thu, Aug 23, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Fifteen indicted in museum case

EMBEZZLING FUNDS After submitting a NT$385 million renovation project to the legislature, more than 1,000 specifications were altered, inflating it to NT$600 million

By Rich Chang  /  Staff Reporter

Shilin prosecutors yesterday indicted 15 individuals for their alleged involvement in a corruption case concerning the renovation of the National Palace Museum's main exhibition hall.

The prosecutors asked the Shilin District Court to sentence former director of the museum Shih Shou-chien (石守謙) to 15 years in jail, former chief secretary of the museum Hsueh Fei-yuan (薛飛源) to 18 years in jail and former director of the museum's department of antiquities Chi Juo-hsin (稽若昕) to an 18-year prison term.

Prosecutors requested that architect Lo Hsien-hua (羅興華) be given a 15-year sentence.

Prosecutors said that the 15 defendants had all been charged with corruption.

Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝), a former director of the museum, was however not indicted, although the renovation project was conceived and drafted during his stint as director.

Tu has said he was not involved in the renovations and that his assistants were solely in charge of the project.

Prosecutors decided that officials at the museum assisted Lo, who won part of the reconstruction project for the main hall, in embezzling more than NT$30 million (US$900,000).

Prosecutors said in the indictment that "as a director of the museum, Shih did not protect the nation's funds, but inflated the budgets for Lo and other firms and therefore he should receive a heavy sentence."

Prosecutors allege that the officials illegally aided two other companies in a land conservation project to protect the museum, which is located in the hills.

At issue was a NT$385 million renovation project. After submitting its project proposal to the legislature, the museum then altered more than 1,000 specifications in the reconstruction plans, which inflated the budget to NT$600 million.

The renovation of the National Palace Museum's main exhibition hall began in 2002 and was completed last year.

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