Fri, Jul 31, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Hsu Chih-chien held in graft probe

FREE MEALS?Agency Against Corruption officers said the former New Taipei City deputy mayor met with real-estate developers and was treated to lavish meals

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Former New Taipei City deputy mayor Hsu Chih-chien, left, is led away by a police officer in Taipei yesterday following a joint investigation by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and the Agency Against Corruption.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

Former New Taipei City deputy mayor Hsu Chih-chien (許志堅) was detained yesterday on allegations of corruption.

Taipei prosecutors said that Hsu took money, gold bars and luxury watches offered by two real-estate developers in return for expediting the approval and review process for several urban renewal and construction projects in the past few years.

The 64-year-old Hsu, an aide of New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), was detained along with Chou Li-hui (周麗惠), who prosecutors suspect acted as a go-between on behalf of the developers.

The Taipei District Court said the allegations are serious and there was need to prevent collusion on testimony, since Hsu and Chou had given conflicting accounts during questioning.

The probe was directed by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption. They wrapped up an investigation lasting more than a year on Hsu’s dealings with Formosa 21 Construction Co (寶興建設) and Le Young Construction Co (樂揚建設).

Judicial investigators accuse Hsu of receiving at least NT$4 million (US$126,600), along with three 5 ounce gold bars and luxury brand watches worth about NT$500,000 from the two developers between 2011 and 2013, when Hsu was deputy mayor of New Taipei City.

Citing health reasons, Hsu quit the deputy mayoral post in June last year, just after Chu announced he would run for re-election as New Taipei City mayor.

While in office, Hsu doubled as director-general of the New Taipei City Government’s urban renewal project review committee, and deputy director-general of the city’s urban planning committee.

During preliminary investigations, agency officers said they placed Hsu under surveillance and also wiretapped his telephone.

The agency said it discovered that Hsu took many opportunities to meet up with executives from the two real-estate developers in private or on official business, and was treated to lavish banquets numerous times hosted by the two companies.

Hsu is alleged to have used his authority to expedite the project review and approval process, to enable Formosa 21 to secure a construction project on Beiyi Road in Sindian District (新店), and similarly, for Le Young to secure a project on Jieshou Road in Banciao District (板橋).

The municipality stood to gain NT$1.7 billion in terms of property and the project would have posed the least burden on the local government of all municipal-headed urban renewal projects to date, the prosecutors’ office said.

In Wednesday’s operation, prosecutors searched 18 locations and brought in 11 other people for questioning, including Hsu’s son and elder brother, and executives of the two companies.

Hsu’s son, Hsu Shih-yun (許士耘), elder brother, Hsu Chih-yuan (許志遠), Le Young Construction general manager Chou Hsueh-ou (鄒雪娥), Formosa 21 Construction legal supervisor Kuo Chao-hsiang (郭兆祥) and seven others brought in for questioning were released yesterday after posting bail ranging between NT$500,000 and NT$100,000.

It was alleged that Hsu Chih-chien used bank accounts in the names of his son and elder brother to receive bribe money from the real-estate companies.

The scandal has tarnished the New Taipei City Government and Chu’s handling of city administration.

Critics have questioned whether Chu knew of the allegations against the former deputy mayor and pushed Hsu Chih-chien to resign to limit potential damage to his re-election chances.

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