The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday refused to comment on media reports alleging that the air force late last year filed a case with the International Court of Arbitration to seek the return of kickbacks that were allegedly paid during the procurement of French Mirage 2000 aircraft in 1992.
“The ministry has no comment on the news report and it will do whatever is necessary to protect the nation’s interests,” ministry spokesman Major-General David Lo (羅紹和) said.
The Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday reported that the Air Force had filed a suit late last year with the international court in Paris, after the court handed down a ruling on May 2011 ordering French defense company Thales (known as Thompson-CSF until 2000) to pay Taiwan’s government about US$861 million in kickbacks given in the scandal-plagued Lafayette frigate deal. The report said that the Air Force was seeking the return of kickbacks that were allegedly paid during the procurement of French Mirage 2000 jet fighters in 1992.
The report added that the legal action would mean that the Air Force had verified the allegations of kickbacks during the deal.
Taiwan ordered 48 single-seat Mirage 2000-5EI interceptors and 12 Mirage twin-seat 2000-5DI trainers in 1992. The first squadron became operational in 1997.
In August 2004, the Control Yuan announced that the Mirage deal was “suspicious” because the Air Force had originally reported the cost at 22.8 billion francs (worth US$4.3 billion in 1992), but 6 billion francs was added to the bill at a later date. The Control Yuan requested a judicial probe into the Mirage deal.
The newspaper’s report added that an initial investigation had found that Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), the main figure in the Lafayette scandal, allegedly received US$260 million in kickbacks over the course of the Mirage deal.
In October 2011, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) approved in the legislature plans by the military to investigate kickbacks that were allegedly paid during the procurement of the fighters and added that the ministry planned to file a lawsuit with the international court the next year.
Last year, the ministry earmarked NT$70 million (US$2.3 million) for the legal action in its budget.
Wang fled Taiwan in late 1993 following the death of Navy Captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓), whose body was found in the ocean off the east coast of the country. Yin was believed to have been ready to blow the whistle on those who received kickbacks in the Lafayette frigate deal.