Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Two sentenced in herbal bribes case

APPEALOne of the former legislators did not dispute receiving the money, but said the court did not properly define it because it was a political donation, not a bribe

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Chiu Chuei-chen (邱垂貞) and former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Liao Fu-peng (廖福本) were yesterday sentenced to eight years and eight years and six months in prison respectively, for accepting bribes from the National Chinese Herbal Apothecary Association in 1998.

Six other former legislators were acquitted.

In its verdict, the Taipei District Court said that Chiu accepted a bribe of NT$5 million (US$151,000), while Liao accepted NT$6 million from the association. In addition to their sentences, Chiu and Liao were deprived of their civil rights for five and six years respectively, and they were ordered to return the money to the association.

Chiu said that he would appeal.

“The money I received from the association was a political donation, not a bribe. This is a problem of different definitions of the money,” Chiu said. “I will definitely appeal.”

Chiu said that everybody involved in the case had received money from the association. The method judges used to define the money he received as a bribe was not convincing, he said.

“How do you prove the money was a bribe? This is not fair,” he said.

Liao also disputed the ruling.

“I was instrumental in having more than 1,000 bills passed into law during my terms, but I never received a dime in bribes,” said Liao, who served as a lawmaker between 1992 and 2001.

The case began on Jan. 17 last year when the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Panel indicted eight former and incumbent lawmakers, including Chiu and Liao, on charges of corruption for accepting bribes from the association in return for their endorsement of an amendment to Article 103 of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法) that would restore the right of herbalists to fill medical prescriptions.

The amendment was passed in March 1998.

In addition to Chiu and Liao, DPP legislators Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅), Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) and Lin Kuang-hua (林光華), the KMT’s Hsu Shu-po (?? and Cheng Horng-chi (陳鴻基) and People First Party legislator Feng Ting-kuo (馮定國) were also indicted.

Among those indicted, only Lee won re-election last year.

Besides Chiu and Liao, the rest were found not guilty.

Former DPP vice presidential candidate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) was also investigated by prosecutors, but he was not indicted.

Prosecutors said that any donation of more than NT$300,000 would be considered a bribe. Su accepted NT$100,000 from the association.

Additional reporting by CNA

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