Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Diplomatic fraud suspect found guilty, gets jail term

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wu Shih-tsai (吳思材), a key suspect in the Papua New Guinea diplomatic fraud scandal, faces two years and four months behind bars after the Taipei District Court found him guilty yesterday on charges of forgery and defamation.

Wu has been in custody since May 6 and will remain so even if he decides to appeal the sentence, which he can do within 10 days of receiving the written verdict.

“Wu is a naturalized Singaporean and he is no longer a Taiwanese national. As a result, there is a fear that he would abscond if released. His detention shall continue,” Taipei District Court spokesman Huang Chun-min (黃俊明) said.

Wu and Ching Chi-ju (金紀玖), the other main suspect in the case, were commissioned in August 2006 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) to act as intermediaries in an attempt to set up diplomatic relations with Papua New Guinea.

MISSING MONEY

The ministry later agreed to wire US$29.8 million to a bank account that had been opened by Wu and Ching at a branch of OCBC Bank in Singapore. The funds were to be transferred to the Papua New Guinea government once the two nations had signed a diplomatic communique.

Following the failure of the attempt in December 2006, the ministry asked for its money back. But Chin allegedly refused to return the funds and has since disappeared.

FALSIFIED STATEMENTS

Wu, when he returned to Taiwan, falsified bank statements and made up a story that he had been threatened by an unidentified gunman who told him to keep his mouth shut about the case and leave Taiwan as soon as possible.

Chiou, former minister of foreign affairs James Huang (黃志芳) and former deputy minister of national defense Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨) all resigned over their involvement in the diplomatic scheme.

Ching, who is a US citizen, is believed to be at large in the US.

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