Presidential Office rejects secret account accusations

ELECTION WARCHEST: A spokesman said that an account at the center of allegations by a KMT lawmaker was opened to accept campaign donations


Sun, Aug 06, 2006 - Page 3

A Presidential Office spokesman yesterday denied allegations by an opposition legislator that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had a secret bank account, saying that the account in question was used for political contributions ahead of the 2004 presidential election.

Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽) made the statement to rebut an accusation by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅), who on Friday showed what he said was evidence that Chen has a secret account with Taishin International Bank.

The account was opened in 2002 and had NT$169 million (US$5.15 million) in it shortly after the presidential election in March 2004, he said.

Chiu also said that in May 2004 the president ordered a close aide to transfer the money abroad and that he had never declared the account to the Control Yuan.

According to Chiu, the president feared he might lose the election in 2004 and ordered that the money be transferred into his personal account to prepare for its transfer abroad.

But Lee said that the account had been opened to receive donations from Chen's supporters for the 2004 presidential election and was closed soon after the election was over.

Lee said Chiu had only listed the deposits into the account and ignored the withdrawals.

The Presidential Office closed the account shortly after the 2004 presidential election and the money in the account was not transferred abroad, Lee said.

As the account was not part of the president's personal assets, it was not necessary for Chen to declare it to the Control Yuan, Lee said.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday said that it was normal to open bank accounts for donations during elections.

"Those who run in elections may know that it is totally normal to have a bank account for donations to help cover the costs of a campaign," Su said when asked to comment on the allegations made by Chiu.

"I think it is quite unfair to criticize the president and call it corruption with an excuse like this," he said.

Su urged the public to figure out the truth and said that he believed in the president's integrity.

The president did not deserve to be humiliated when he had done nothing wrong, Su said.

"Usually, we would close an account like this after the election is over," Su said.

"This type of account should not be called a secret account because it is not secret at all," Su said.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang