Prosecutors on Tuesday said they had decided to drop charges against two former senior officials in a corruption case involving nearly US$30 million embezzled from the government.
One of two businessmen suspected of being involved in the embezzlement accused former vice premier Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and former minister of foreign affairs James Huang (黃志芳) of “splitting” diplomatic funds with him in 2006, during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration.
However, there was insufficient evidence to prove that “Chiou and Huang took any actions to embezzle the public fund or colluded or collaborated with the businessman,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Both Chiou and Huang resigned in May 2008 because of the scandal involving the two businessmen, Ching Chi-ju (金紀玖) and Wu Shih-tsai (吳思材), who allegedly pocketed money earmarked to help Taipei forge official ties with Papua New Guinea.
Ching and Wu were entrusted with the money by the foreign ministry because they claimed to have good connections with officials in the Pacific nation, but supposedly they made no progress in bringing about ties.
Wu, who made the accusation, is serving a jail term, convicted of embezzlement and forgery in the same case. Chiang is believed to have fled to the US.
Taiwan and China have long accused each other of using generous financial packages to entice each other’s diplomatic allies to change allegiances.
However, this situation apparently changed following the election of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in 2008, who vowed to cease the “checkbook diplomacy” of his predecessors and declared a “diplomatic truce” with Beijing whereby both sides would agree not to try to steal diplomatic allies from one another.
Additional reporting by staff writer