Former minister of transportation and communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪), who was sentenced to eight years in prison on corruption charges on Thursday, said yesterday that she would resort to all possible legal proceedings to fight the conviction.
“I have never received bribes... A reputation is not earned in one or two days. I have spent my entire career as a public servant building a good reputation. All my associates know I am not someone who can be bribed,” Kuo told a press conference in Taipei.
Kuo was accused of receiving a bribe of US$20,000 in 2006, when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was in office.
The Supreme Court upheld the conviction handed down by the Taiwan High Court in March, which found Kuo guilty of accepting a bribe related to using her position as transportation minister to grant favors to the Nan Ren Hu Group, a service industry conglomerate, even though she had been found not guilty in first and second trials in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Kuo and her lawyer, Wellington Koo (顧立雄), both claimed the conviction was flawed because of insufficient evidence and inconsistent testimony from Lee Tsung-hsien (李宗賢), son of Nan Ren Hu chairman Lee Ching-po (李清波). They said they would sue Lee Tsung-hsien for perjury and request a retrial and an extraordinary appeal.
Lee Tsung-hsien testified that he had been asked by his father to deliver the cash, but he gave inconsistent information about the numbers, color and material of the tea gift boxes that contained the US$20,000 and were allegedly delivered to Kuo, at first saying that the cash was placed in two iron tea boxes.
He revoked his deposition after Kuo submitted a red tea box, which prosecutors failed to find in a raid of her house, and subsequently said that there was only one cardboard tea box.
The Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau later canceled Lee Tsung-hsien’s original testimony, Koo said.
“In other words, Kuo’s conviction was upheld with inconsistent testimony and without any substantial evidence because no cash was never found — not in the tea box nor in any of Kuo’s or her family’s bank accounts,” Koo said. “I’m wondering if the judicial system applies a different set of standard for DPP politicians and government officials who served under the DPP administration.”
Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎), a lawyer who supports Kuo, also said there was a political factor to the ruling, citing the case of former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Lin was involved in a case with alleged bribes of up to NT$63 million (US$2.1 million), but his corruption charges were dropped despite prosecutors seizing cash and obtaining an audio recording which could have proved his guilt, Huang said.