Thu, Oct 18, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Nantou speaker summoned

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Prosecutors sought to detain independent Nantou County Council Speaker Wu Chih-hsiang (吳棋祥) yesterday on suspicion of embezzling funds set aside to help victims of the devastating 921 earthquake in 1999.

Nantou District Prosecutor's Office spokesman Soong Kung-liang (宋恭良) said prosecutors from the Supreme Prosecutor's Office's Special Investigation Panel along with Nantou prosecutors raided Wu's Nantou County Council office and his residence on Tuesday, seizing a number of documents. They have also summoned Wu for questioning.

Soong said Wu was an executive officer of the Taiwan Dental Association when the association was raising funds for victims of the earthquake.

Wu appropriated NT$30 million (US$910,000) from the fund to purchase a number of surveillance cameras for the county, but allegedly embezzled part of the fund during the purchase, Soong said.

Prosecutors found more than NT$16.5 million was deposited from the fund into the bank account of one of Wu's relatives, Soong said.

Soong told reporters yesterday that Wu was also suspected of abusing his speakership power to force a sand factory to sell its products and holdings at a lower price.

Wu had complained at council meetings that a sand factory in the county had taken too much sand from a river. He revealed the details of the "scandal" in a personal journal. He is also alleged to have privately contacted the owner of the factory and forced him to sell the factory at a lower price, said Soong.

The case also accuses Wu and other dental association officials of bribing lawmakers to support passage of the Oral Cavity Healthcare Law (口腔健康法) in 2003, Soong said.

He said many members of the association allegedly bribed legislators with a total of NT$24.4 million to support the Oral Cavity Healthcare Law.

The law included dental services in the National Health Insurance, ensuring dentists would continue to receive subsidies.

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