Tue, Jul 28, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Chen Shui-bian’s friend sponsored Rudd trip: report

STAFF WRITER

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd traveled to London in 2005 on a trip sponsored by a friend of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), an Australian newspaper reported on Friday.

A report in last week’s the Age said Taiwanese-born businessman Kung Chin-yuan (龔金源) paid for the two-week trip when Rudd was shadow minister of foreign affairs, adding that Kung also donated A$220,000 (US$180,000) to the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

Kung is a member of the Queensland branch of the Taiwan Australia Business Council.

The report said that the flight was paid for because Taiwan’s government was worried about the growing influence of China in the South Pacific region and that Kung has been linked to secret diplomatic funds that Chen has been charged with embezzling.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) alleged in October 2006 that Kung had received US$625,000 from Chen from the presidential special allowance to invest in Chinese real estate. The Presidential Office denied the charge at the time.

Kung has denied receiving money from the fund, the report said, adding that he has also refused numerous requests from prosecutors to return to Taiwan to testify in Chen’s case.

Australian Electoral Commission records show Kung donated A$120,000 to the Queensland Labor Party between 1998 and 2006, the story said.

Kung contributed a further A$100,000 to the federal ALP under the name “Lawrence Kung” after Rudd was sworn in as prime minister in December 2007.

Rudd’s links to Taiwan stem from the 1970s when he studied Mandarin at Taipei’s National Taiwan Normal University.

Chen has been detained since December on charges of embezzling NT$104 million from the special discretionary fund during his presidency from 2000 until last year.

The last day of Chen’s trial will be today and the verdict is expected on Sept. 11.

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