Three former Taipei City Government officials and a company official yesterday were indicted on charges of corruption and forgery as prosecutors completed their investigation into the Xinsheng Overpass scandal.
Taipei prosecutors said charges had been filed against the four: Huang Hsi-hsun (黃錫薰), former director of the city’s New Construction Department; Chen Chih-sheng (陳智盛), former section chief of the department’s Public Works Bureau; Chang Li-yen (章立言), former chief engineer at the department; and Lee Mei (李媺), an executive at Join Engineering Consultants.
Prosecutors accused the three city government officials of abusing their power in handling the bidding process for the project in April 2008 to please their supervisors and increase their chances of getting a promotion.
They said that to facilitate the bidding process for the overpass improvement project — after the bidding had already failed six times — and ensure the project was completed before the opening of the Taipei International Flora Expo in November, the three officials were suspected of inflating the budget for the project, causing losses of NT$337 million (US$11.5 million) to the city government.
They said the floor price for the project rose from NT$1.62 billion in the first round of bidding to NT$1.85 billion in the seventh round, with Kung Sing Engineering Corp winning the bid, while Join Engineering Consultants received an extra NT$15.5 million in a bid for the design and supervision of the project.
Questions surrounding the project first emerged in August last year, when Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors accused the New Construction Department of paying exorbitant fees for flowers to decorate the overpass. The city government later acknowledged its administrative negligence in overseeing the budget listing procedure and sent the case to the Taipei Prosecutors’ Office for investigation.
Former Taipei City Secretariat director Yang Hsi-an (楊錫安), who was suspected of contacting construction companies before the seventh round of bidding was launched, was not indicted. Prosecutors said they had insufficient evidence to prove Yang had conspired with the construction companies during the bidding. However, they recommended that the city government discipline him for inappropriate action during the bidding process.
Prosecutors did not question Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) about the case. Hau said on Oct. 6 that he would resign if he was found to have been involved in the scandal.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER