Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Chen relatives ask for leniency

GO EASY Prosecutors said the former first lady’s brother and sister-in-law should be given lighter sentences because they had not benefited financially from their crimes

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) and several others yesterday appealed to the court to be lenient in light of their admissions to money laundering.

Chen Chih-chung, his wife Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), and former first lady Wu Shu-jen’s (吳淑珍) brother Wu Ching-mao (吳景茂) and sister-in-law Chen Chun-ying (陳俊英) are co-defendants in the trial against the former first family. The four are charged with helping the former first family launder money to overseas bank accounts.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said that although Chen Chih-chung and Huang pleaded guilty to money laundering, they did not answer key questions in the investigation into the former first family’s finances.

“The money laundering activities of the defendants cannot be justified by the defendants’ claims that they were unaware [that anything illegal was going on] and that Wu Shu-jen was so domineering that they could not refuse her requests,” prosecutors said.

The prosecution asked the court to hand down an “appropriate” sentence for Chen Chih-chung and Huang.

In his defense, Chen Chih-chung said he had not been able to answer all of the prosecutors’ questions because his father had never discussed the family’s overseas finances with him. He apologized to the public and said he had done everything he could to wire the money back to Taiwan.

Chen Chih-chung and his wife had promised to wire about NT$1.2 billion (US$36.6 million) from Swiss accounts and paper companies back to Taiwan as a condition to enter plea-bargaining. However, none of the money has been remitted because the accounts have been frozen by Swiss authorities, who said the money could only be returned to Taiwan through judicial means because of regulations for mutual judicial assistance.

Huang said through tears that she had done what was expected of a wife — obeying her husband’s family — and never thought she would one day face criminal charges.

She asked the court to be lenient and give her the opportunity to be a good mother to her child because she could not bear to be parted from her daughter.

“My daughter should not bear responsibility for the mistakes of [adults],” she said.

Wu Ching-mao and his wife Chen Chun-ying also appealed to the court to hand down lighter sentences, saying they were not aware they were breaking the law by letting Wu Shu-jen use their bank accounts to send money overseas.

The couple said they were not very educated and did not understand the law but regretted their actions and were sorry.

Prosecutors asked the court for lighter sentences for the two, saying they had shown remorse and had not benefited financially from helping the former first family.

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