Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Taipei hospital raided in construction bid scandal

ILLEGAL PROFITS Prosecutors believe two contractors cut corners during repairs on two Taipei City Hospital branches and had inside information to win contracts

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei prosecutors yesterday searched the offices of Taipei City Hospital and questioned four hospital officials on suspicion of involvement in influencing the selection of contractors for hospital construction projects.

Taipei District Prosecutors Office spokesman Lin Jinn-tsun (林錦村) yesterday told a press conference that in 2004 the city hospital invited public bids from contractors to repair the hospital's Renai branch and women and children's branch.

Prosecutors believe information on the lowest bids was leaked to two construction companies to help them win the projects.

Lin also said that the companies cut corners during the construction works and that architect Chou Mao-chi (邱茂吉), who supervised the work, was suspected of turning a blind eye to the poor quality work.

The hospital is suspected of helping the two construction companies make NT$400 million (US$12 million) in illegal profits, Lin said.

He said prosecutors were not sure whether the two construction companies had bribed officials from the city hospital or the city government or Chou.

Prosecutors yesterday morning searched 13 locations, including several offices belonging to the hospital and the offices of Chou's company and other construction companies, summoning 12 individuals for questioning.

Among the suspects, four were hospital officials: Taipei City Hospital deputy superintendent Wu Chen-lung (吳振龍) and three other officials, Weng Yu-chin (翁玉琴), Tu Chun-ming (杜俊明) and Song Pai-hsin (宋佰炘).

The questioning was in progress at press time.

Lin said the individuals were suspected of violating the Government Procurement Law (政府採購法).

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Government and Taipei City Hospital expressed regret over the scandal and said that the four hospital staffers were found to be involved in the scandal last April following an internal investigation conducted by the Taipei City Government's Clean Government Commission.

Commission Deputy Director Yu Chih-li (余致力) said the commission began to investigate the case last year after irregularities emerged in the construction work and sent the case to prosecutors for further investigation.

Taipei City Hospital vice president Huang Chun-cheng (黃遵誠) said the hospital would cooperate with prosecutors during the investigation, adding that the continuing construction would not be affected by the investigation.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said that the city government would remove those involved in the scandal if found guilty.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

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