Wed, Dec 08, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Switzerland returns US$20m in Chen funds

Staff Writer, with AFP, GENEVA and CNA

Switzerland has returned to Taiwan about US$20 million from bank accounts associated with jailed former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), following his conviction on corruption charges, the Swiss attorney general said yesterday.

“The Attorney General of Switzerland has returned some 20 million Swiss francs [US$20.4 million] to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office of Taiwan,” his office said in a statement.

The deposits seized in Swiss banks were “part of the money that was deposited in Switzerland by the former president of the -Republic of Taiwan [sic], Chen Shui-bian, who was recently convicted of corruption in his homeland,” it said.

Swiss prosecutors said a total of about SF37 million had been seized since 2008 during their money-laundering probe into Chen Shui-bian’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), and daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚).

The Supreme Court last month sentenced Chen and his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), to prison on bribery charges in a string of corruption cases.

The Taiwan High Court on Monday ruled that the former president, who was moved to Taipei Prison in Taoyuan County on last Thursday, should serve 17-and-a-half years in prison.

The Swiss attorney general’s office said the funds deposited in Switzerland “are presumed to have originated from the criminal activities of the former President of the Republic of Taiwan [sic] [and] have been returned to the Taiwanese authorities as an anticipated handover.”

“No objection was raised by any of the parties to the proceedings to the return of the sum of around 20 million Swiss francs,” it said.

Meanwhile, Pei Teh Hospital at Taichung Prison said that it is capable of taking care of the wheelchair-bound former first lady if it is instructed to do so.

Lin Chih-hsiung (林志雄), chief secretary of Taichung Prison, said that in cooperation with the China Medical University Hospital, Pei Teh could handle seriously ill convicts, including amputees.

Lin’s comment came after Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤), the couple’s daughter, said that Pei Teh may not be an ideal place for to serve her sentence because she has been paralyzed from the waist down for more than 20 years.

Pei Teh Hospital can offer the same level of medical services as any other top-notch hospital, Lin said.

The Taichung Prison hospital was selected by the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office as the facility where Wu would serve her time if prosecutors decide to carry out the sentence.

Wu was sentenced to a total of 19 years in jail last month by the Supreme Court for taking bribes while Chen Shui-bian was president.

Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) said that whether the former first lady would serve her time in Pei Teh Hospital would depend on a medical assessment of her condition.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers have called on the government to be lenient with Wu by either allowing her to remain under house arrest or releasing her on medical bail.

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