Thu, Nov 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Chou out on NT$40m bail

BRIBE-TAKING?Prosecutors in the case against Farglory Group founder and 29 other people claim that New Taipei City Councilor Chou Sheng-kao was their ‘spokesman’

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Prosecutors yesterday sought a 10-year prison term for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) New Taipei City Councilor Chou Sheng-kao (周勝考) for his involvement in a bribery and breach of trust case brought against Farglory Group (遠雄集團) founder Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄) and 29 other people.

Chou was released late on Tuesday night, after posting bail at NT$40 million (US$1.33 million). The bail court judge also restricted Chou’s movements, requiring him to stay at home and to report to the local police station three times a week.

It is alleged that Chou and other New Taipei City Government officials worked to benefit Farglory by securing valuable government contracts for two real-estate development projects, as well as rezoning a former coal mine in Tucheng District (土城) and a factory in Sinjhuang District (新莊).

Prosecutors said evidence indicated that Chou acted as “spokesman” and “protector” for all the officials involved by speaking up for Farglory during the project assessment and approval process to the New Taipei City Council and at other related meetings.

It was alleged, through Chou’s efforts, along with the support of other officials, that Farglory received additional rezoned plots of land for construction, from which the company derived an additional NT$2.5 billion in financial benefit.

Evidence gathered by prosecutors showed that Chou had received NT$18.85 million in total benefits from Farglory, in the form of bribe money, business deal exchanges and discounts on housing units that Chou personally purchased.

Land to be developed at a former coal mine in Tucheng District was a hilly area that experts had assessed to be at risk of landslide and other geological hazards, as it is near an earthquake fault zone and has a history of flooding and mudflows.

“The land should have been assessed as not being suitable for development due to the potential risks and its record of geological hazards. However, Farglory linked up with Chou to get the project approved. Farglory gave a good price on sand and gravel removal to a company owned by Chou, along with discounts on housing units. In this way, Chou helped to protect Farglory’s interests and to secure the contract from the New Taipei City Government,” prosecutors said.

It was also determined that from 2012 to 2013, Chou in capacity as councilor, worked along with committee members during the environmental impact assessment process for another Farglory project.

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