Thu, Aug 17, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Ex-president questioned as defendant in Dome probe

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Former president Ma Ying-jeou, 2nd right, yesterday appears at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for questioning in the Taipei Dome case.

Photo: Chien Lee-chung, Taipei Times

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday appeared in court as a defendant in a corruption probe into the contracting process for the Taipei Dome project, while Farglory Group founder Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄) was also questioned in connection with the case.

After a session lasting more than eight hours, Ma left the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office after 5pm.

“I am confident in my innocence and I can stand up to the test,” Ma said as he left the office.

It is the second case in which Ma has been listed as a defendant and summoned for questioning in a judicial investigation since stepping down from the presidency on May 20 last year.

Prosecutors also summoned former Taipei Department of Finance commissioner Lee Sush-der (李述德), former Farglory Group vice president Tsai Chung-i (蔡宗易) and architect Liu Pei-sen (劉培森), the original designer of the Taipei Dome project.

Chao was escorted back to the detention center after questioning, where he has been held since July 1, while Tsai and Liu were allowed to leave.

Lee was still being questioned at press time last night.

Local media reports said that Taipei prosecutors have gathered key evidence alleging that Ma, in 2004, during his tenure as Taipei mayor, colluded with Chao to improperly favor and benefit Farglory Group (遠雄集團).

The city government in 2004 named Farglory Group and Osaka-based Takenaka Corp as contractors for the project after a selective bidding process, saying they were the most qualified applicants.

After Takenaka pulled out of the project in September of that year, Farglory continued to negotiate a contract with the city government, and a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract was signed in 2006.

The contract exempted Farglory from paying royalties on the complex — which according to the approved construction plan was to consist of a baseball stadium, movie theaters, department store, hotel and office building — over the 50-year term of the contract.

Prosecutors said that the royalty waiver would cost the city about NT$400 million (US$13.17 million at the current exchange rate) per year for the duration of the contract.

Members of the Songshan Tobacco Factory Tree Protection Union, the leading civic group opposing the Taipei Dome project, filed a lawsuit against Ma and Lee, requesting the courts, the Special Investigation Division, the Control Yuan and the Agency Against Corruption investigate possible illegalities and misconduct during the contracting process.

Union convener Yu Yi (游藝) was at the prosecutors’ office yesterday, holding up protest banners as he demanded that the city government to nullify the contract and convert the site into a park with trees and green spaces.

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