Sat, Sep 15, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Former minister sentenced to 15 years in jail

WHO'S WHO Former Yangmingshan National Park director Tsai Pai-lu, secretary Tsai Ming-tien and builder Kuo Chuan-ching were also ordered to serve jail time in the case

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former vice minister of the interior Yen Wan-chin (顏萬進) was yesterday sentenced to 15 years in jail on corruption charges.

"Judges decided the prosecutors' assertion that Yen illegally pocketed money that did not belong to him when he was the vice minister was correct," said Liu Shou-sung (劉壽嵩), spokesman for the Taipei District Court.

Yen was convicted of receiving bribes in connection with the construction of a cable car system and other projects. Prosecutors discovered that Yen accepted NT$1.2 million (US$36,400) in bribes from Rich Development, a construction company that was awarded a build-operate-transfer (BOT) bid to construct a cable car system connecting Taipei's Beitou district and Yangmingshan National Park.

Rich Development won the bid to construct the cable car system in December 2005.

It proposed to build four cable car stations as well as the Yangmingshan National Park Service Center. The company was granted construction permits in March last year.

Construction work began in May last year.

Soon after the permits were awarded, however, Taipei prosecutors received complaints alleging that the permits had been awarded illegally.

In addition to Yen, former director of Yangmingshan National Park Headquarters Tsai Pai-lu (蔡佰祿), park secretary Tsai Ming-tien (蔡銘添), technician Hsu Kuo-jung (許國榮) and Rich Development owner Kuo Chuan-ching (郭銓慶) were indicted.

Tsai Pai-lu was sentenced to 30 months in jail, Tsai Ming-tien to six years, Hsu to five-and-a-half years and Kuo to 18 months.

Rich Development, however, was allowed to continue with the construction work.

Prosecutors said that Tsai Pai-lu and other officials approved permits allowing a total of 183 hot spring hotels and restaurants to be built around the cable car stations just a few days before he retired from his position in May last year.

The permits were granted without conducting any environmental impact assessments, which was illegal.

Prosecutors also discovered that Yen embezzled political donations meant for the Democratic Progressive Party totaling NT$5 million.

In addition, Yen also accepted airline tickets worth more than NT$80,000 from Trans-Asia Airways president Fan Chih-chiang (范志強) for helping Fan set up a Cambridge University Taiwan alumni association.

In the indictment, prosecutors initially suggested judges sentence Yen to more than 20 years in prison.

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