Mon, May 19, 2008 - Page 2 News List

PNG fund scandal suspect issues statement on funds

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ching Chi-ju (金紀玖), one of the brokers in the high-profile Papua New Guinea (PNG) diplomacy scandal, has offered a statement and alleged evidence of his innocence to prosecutors through his attorney.

Ching, who has been in the US since news of the scandal broke, has been placed on the wanted list by Taipei prosecutors for 30 years.

Ching’s attorney in Taiwan, Chan Han-shan (詹漢山), told reporters yesterday that Ching’s statement detailed the whereabouts of the missing US$30 million, and said that no Taiwanese government officials had received any money from the funds.

Chan said Ching, who had also offered some documents to prosecutors, has attempted to acquire documents from Singapore’s OCBC Bank, where the broker’s account was set up.

Chan said Ching told prosecutors he is innocent.

The attorney said Ching submitted his statement and the documents to the Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigation Panel, not the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, which is in charge of the fund scandal investigation, because Ching believed the district prosecutors office was biased.

The attorney said that according to Ching, the district prosecutors had placed too much faith in a list they obtained from Wu Shih-tsai (吳思材), who with Ching acted as a middleman in the deal. The list is alleged to contain the names of individuals who were prepared to take money from the fund.

Chan said Ching said the list proved nothing.

State Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明) confirmed yesterday that his office had received Ching’s documents on Friday, and that he would provide the district prosecutors with copies.

The district prosecutors have said that completing a thorough investigation of the case would be difficult if they were unable to interview Ching to help them clear up certain key matters.

Ching’s last known whereabouts was when he entered the US after allegedly making off with US$30 million, which was wired to a joint bank account set up for him and Wu in September 2006 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The money was supposed to be used for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Papua New Guinea.

Taipei prosecutors have interviewed former minister of foreign affairs James Huang (黃志芳), former vice premier Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and former deputy minister of national defense Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨), who have all stepped down from their posts over the scandal.

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