Tue, May 27, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Action may heal Soong, KMT rift: speaker

EMBEZZLED The KMT may have difficulty retrieving the US$240 million as it is only payable to Lee Teng-hui, who quit the KMT after the presidential election of 2000

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that reclaiming the NT$240 million (US$7.87 million) in the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal involving People First Party Chairman (PFP) James Soong (宋楚瑜) from the Taipei District Court may help the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Soong bury their disagreements.

When asked for comment, Wang, a KMT member, said the KMT and Soong need to communicate before the party can get the money back.

This may “more or less” mitigate past ill feelings between the two sides, he said.

Wang was referring to the conflict between Soong and then-president and KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) prior to the 2000 presidential election.

The Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal broke in 1999 when Soong, who was running for president as an independent in competition against the KMT ticket, was accused of embezzling millions of dollars during his time as KMT secretary-general.

Part of the case involved allegations that Soong stole NT$240 million from the KMT and used it to buy US bonds in his son’s name.

Soong said the money was to be used as a gift for members of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) family in the US and that he did not steal the money.

After news of the scandal broke, Soong attempted to return the NT$240 million to the KMT, but Lee refused to accept the funds.

In January 2000, Soong asked the Taipei District Court to take custody of the funds, naming the payee as Lee.

The Chinese-language United Evening News reported on Sunday that KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and Soong had recently discussed how to reclaim the money since the law stipulates that funds held by the district court will be given to the treasury if the payee does not apply to receive them within 10 years.

However, there may be difficulty for the KMT to retrieve the money as it is only payable to Lee, who quit the party after it lost the 2000 presidential election.

When approached for comment before embarking on a six-day trip to China yesterday morning, Wu said the KMT would deal with the money in accordance with the law.

The PFP issued an official press release yesterday, echoing Wu’s remarks, but it also said that many people, including Lee and then- KMT secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝), denied in 2000 but had admitted now the money was used to take care of members of the Chiang family.

“This proves that the Chung Hsing Bills Finance case was indeed a political attempt to interfere in the [presidential] election,” the press release said.

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