The Pingtung District Court on Wednesday sentenced Pingtung Mayor Lin Ya-chun and her husband, Chen Chun-liang (陳俊良), to 16 years in prison for siphoning off close to NT$10 million (US$330,839 at the current exchange rate) in government funds.
Pingtung government officials yesterday said the heavy sentence Lin received would lead to her suspension and removal from office and that they would soon appoint a caretaker to serve the remainder of her term, until next year’s municipal elections.
Lin won the Pingtung mayoral post for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the nine-in-one elections in 2014.
Her husband has served as deputy director of the KMT’s Pingtung County Chapter and has run unsuccessfully for local representative seats.
During Lin’s term as a Pingtung City councilor from 2006 to 2013, she and her husband set up five non-profit organizations, ranging from charity services for women and children, and promoting cultural arts and education, to talent training for disadvantaged people, the court ruling said.
Documents seized by investigators showed that Chen was listed as secretary-general of all five organizations, while Lin used her influence as a city councilor to apply for government subsidies, the court said.
Through their five registered organizations, Lin and Chen filed more than 200 funding requests, applying for subsidies to cover computer equipment, office items and projects, and received a total of NT$9.59 million from the local government during Lin’s term as councilor, the ruling said.
Investigators believed the organizations were merely used as a front to siphon government subsidies, as they never held membership meetings, falsifying meeting records and financial accounts to pretend they were operating normally.
They found that government funds were misappropriated to purchase computers, air conditioners, a water filter system, golf clubs, household appliances and other items, many of which were found at the couple’s residence.
In her defense, Lin claimed she was not involved in the organizations and did not know how the money was used.
This is the first ruling in this case. The verdict can be appealed.