Former minister of Transportation and Communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) yesterday vowed to clear her name by appealing to the Supreme Court after being sentenced to prison over a development project relating to Taipei Train Station.
Kuo was accused of taking US$20,000 from the Nan Ren Hu Group (南仁湖集團) in 2006, which was interested in securing the contract to run the shopping areas in Taipei Train Station. Ultimately Nan Ren Hu did not attend the -bidding session, and the contract was won by a management team from the Breeze Center.
Kuo was found not guilty at both the Taipei District Court and Taiwan High Court. When the Supreme Court requested a retrial at the High Court, Kuo was found guilty on April 13 this year and sentenced to eight years in prison.
At a press conference yesterday, Kuo criticized the judges at the retrial for taking what she characterized as “inconsistent testimony” made by Lee Tsung-hsien (李宗賢), son of Nan Ren Hu Group chairman Lee Ching-po (李清波).
She said the younger Lee first told the investigators that US$20,000 was placed in two tea cans, each containing US$10,000. She then showed the investigators the only one tea can she claims to have received from Lee Tsung-hsien.
Lee Tsung-hsien allegedly then changed his testimony and said there was only one tea can.
“If [the court] can simply take contradictory statements and destroy one’s reputation, then people can be framed too easily,” Kuo said, adding she had never received money from Lee Tsung-hsien or his father.
“If I indeed had taken the money, I would not have left the can in the house, brewed and shared the tea with guests and voluntarily hand it in to the prosecutors,” she said.
The verdict at the retrial indicated that Kuo had instructed Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) to explain the regulations to interested bidders, but Kuo said that was a general statement applying to all interested bidders, not just to Nan Ren Hu Group alone. Kuo’s lawyer William Ku (顧立雄) said Lee Tsung-hsien’s testimony was questionable.
“He wasn’t even able to describe in a consistent manner how he put the money inside the tea cans,” Ku said.
Kuo’s husband, Peng Kuang-huei (彭光輝), former secretary-general to the president Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), former Government Information Office minister Pasuya Yao (姚文智), former Chunghwa Telecom chairman Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) and dozens of supporters from southern Taiwan all vouched for Kuo’s innocence at the press conference.