Sun, Sep 07, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Papua New Guinea fraud suspect kept in detention

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wu Shih-tsai (吳思材), a key suspect in the Papua New Guinea diplomatic fraud scandal, is being kept in custody because prosecutors fear he could attempt to escape during the ongoing investigation into the case, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.

Wu and his partner Ching Chi-ju (金紀玖), who were commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in 2006 to help broker a deal for the establishment of diplomatic ties with Papua New Guinea, allegedly embezzled the US$29.8 million intended as aid for the Pacific country.

While Ching remains on the run, Wu, taken into custody by prosecutors in May, was indicted on Friday on charges of forgery and defamation.

“This case concerned a lot of money, which was wired to foreign bank accounts. We have not finished our investigation or determined where the money is,” Chief Prosecutor Huang Mo-hsin (黃謀信) said.

Prosecutors said they were investigating whether any government officials, including former vice premier Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and former minister of foreign affairs James Huang (黃志芳), were involved in the case.

On May 6, Huang filed a detention request against Wu on charges of corruption, which was granted by the district court. Wu should have been released last Friday, when the detention period expired, but prosecutors requested an extension on other charges.

“The forgery, and Wu’s lying to the police, made for a solid case for us to keep him,” Huang said.

Wu at one point defended his actions to police by saying he had been threatened at gunpoint.

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