Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday denied allegations that he just sat by despite knowing that then-Construction and Planning Agency director-general Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) was suspected of receiving bribes from businesses about a year ago.
Jiang said in a statement that the accusations of “inaction” to the tip-offs about Yeh made against him by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) “were not the truth.”
Yeh has been detained since late last month on bribery charges in connection with a housing project involving Farglory Land Development Co (遠雄建設).
Yeh was Taoyuan County deputy commissioner at that time, but has since been fired.
Jiang said he decided that Yeh must be transferred to a non-supervisory position when he was tipped off by officials at the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption in April last year that Yeh might be receiving illicit kickbacks.
Yeh declined the proposed job transfer and told then-minister of the interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) that he would rather opt for retirement if he could be allowed to retire on his scheduled date in July, Jiang said.
Yeh was then forced to retire one month earlier, “at my insistence,” Jiang said.
The DPP has accused Jiang of trying to cover up possible irregularities involving Yeh by forcing him to resign rather than referring him for investigation, to which Jiang said that it was “in the public’s interests” that Yeh retire earlier.
Jiang said he did not tell Lee why Yeh had to retire early when Lee asked him about it because he was told by Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) to keep a low profile, lest the ongoing investigation into the allegations against Yeh be leaked.
At that time, prosecutors had already begun investigating, Jiang said, dismissing the accusation that he tried to cover up Yeh’s alleged corrupt practices.
Jiang said he first heard about controversies surrounding Yeh in 2011, when he was minister of the interior, after receiving unsigned letters saying that Yeh often went drinking and socializing and that Yeh always asked his subordinates to pay his bills.
Ethics officials at the ministry closed the case without finding any irregularities involving Yeh at that time, but he then asked the officials to keep a close eye on Yeh, Jiang said, adding that he also called Yeh in to his office to demand better discipline.