Fri, Nov 16, 2007 - Page 3 News List

NPB officials held on suspicion of graft and forgery

DIRTY? The National Property Bureau's deputy director and his predecessor are accused of selling public land at well below market value

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

National Property Bureau (NPB) Deputy Director Chen Kuan-pao (陳官保) and his predecessor, Su Wei-cheng (蘇維成), were taken into custody on Wednesday on graft and forgery charges.

After several hours of questioning, the Taipei District Court agreed to a request from prosecutors to detain Chen and Su to facilitate further probes into their suspected roles in a public land deal scandal.

The duo are accused of leasing a plot of prime public land to a Taipei construction company and then selling the land at well below market value during their tenures as head of the NPB's northern Taiwan office.

The land, covering an area of more than 660m2, is located near the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall. It originally accommodated dormitories belonging to two government agencies.

As the dormitories were dilapidated, they were torn down a few years ago. The land was leased to Jun He Construction Co between 2004 and 2005 and finally sold to the company last year for NT$100 million (US$3.09 million), far less than the market price of about NT$400 million.

Prosecutors were tipped off to possible irregularities in the land deal about six months ago.

After several months of investigations, prosecutors led law enforcement officers in a raid of 17 separate locations in Taipei City and Taipei County on Tuesday. Afterwards, prosecutors summoned 25 individuals, including incumbent and former NPB officials and construction company executives, for questioning.

After questioning them overnight, prosecutors applied for permission to detain 10 of the individuals pending further probes, while the other 15 were released.

The Taipei District Court later released four of the 10 suspects on bail amounts ranging between NT$100,000 and NT$800,000.

It also ruled that the six others be held incommunicado pending further investigations. Other than Chen and Su, those detained include senior executives of Jun He Construction and a land agent.

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