Nantou City Mayor Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) yesterday dismissed accusations that she took a NT$16 million (US$544,000) kickback from a local construction project and defended the transparency of the public bidding process.
Hsu, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee, is a contender in the next Nantou County commissioner election who enjoys strong grassroots support in the southern city.
The accusations against the 37-year-old mayor were published in a report in the Chinese-language Next Magazine that said she had accepted a kickback from the contractor of a charnel house construction project.
The contractor of the project, which has a budget of more than NT$140 million, went to Hsu for help after the city office failed to get a NT$60 million loan from the National Treasury Agency and asked the contractor to be responsible for all costs. Hsu allegedly received a kickback of NT$16 million through her personal friend Sui Chia-wen (隋家文), and took NT$11 million from the kickback after handing out about NT$5 million to local politicians, the magazine said.
Hsu yesterday denied the accusations and insisted the bidding had been transparent.
“I was not involved in the construction project and did not handle any money through anyone. I believe that I and my team can stand up to any examination,” she told a press conference.
Describing the story as “ridiculous,” Hsu said the magazine had never contacted her to confirm the allegations and said she would discuss the issue with her lawyer before deciding whether to file a defamation lawsuit against the publishers.
She said the project had been investigated in February after someone reported irregularities to local investigators after the bidding process was concluded.
The city office provided information to help with the probe and so far no charges have been made, which proves that the city’s handling of the project stood up to scrutiny, she said.
KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) said Hsu had already explained the issue to the party’s Nantou City branch.
The KMT said it would not jump to any conclusions about Hsu’s alleged wrongdoing and that it would look into the case.