Hsieh rebuts allegations against aides

BRIBERY PROBE: Hsu Cheng-chao and Hsiao Ling-hui were questioned the second time yesterday over suspected irregular donations to support Hsieh

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday took issue with a Chinese-language newspaper over a story that said prosecutors had found new evidence in their investigation into corruption allegations involving two of his close aides, Hsu Cheng-chao (徐政朝) and Hsiao Ling-hui (蕭玲慧).

Hsieh issued a written statement yesterday morning dismissing the United Daily News report and accusing the newspaper of trying to influence his chances of winning next year's election.

The United Daily News story said the Special Investigation Task Force had found that Construction and Planning Agency Deputy Director Huang Ching-mao (黃景茂) had donated NT$1 million (US$30,000) in his father's name to the Kaohsiung Development Association, a support group of Hsieh's, in November 2002.

Huang was at the time director-general of the maintenance office of the Kaohsiung Bureau of Public Works. Hsieh was the mayor of Kaohsiung.

The newspaper also wrote that prosecutors believe Hsu, a former Kaohsiung Development Association president, and Hsiao, a Kaohsiung City Government accountant, accepted bribes from Chiu Wen-pin (邱文賓) and Chang Shih-hsing (張識興), whom Hsieh appointed as representatives of the city government on the board of Kaohsiung Bank (高雄銀行).

The story said that prosecutors considered Hsieh, Hsu and Hsiao "accomplices" in accepting bribes in return for favors.

Prosecutors sought to annul a court decision that released Hsu and Hsiao on Aug. 20 without bail after they were questioned, the paper said.

In his statement, Hsieh said Huang had made the donation to his electoral support group rather than to the association.

Hsieh said that all donations to his campaign funds were legal, adding that he had spent the donations on his Kaohsiung mayoral reelection bid and could not verify whether any public officials or their relatives had donated money.

Hsieh demanded that the United Daily News run a correction of the story and said he might file a lawsuit against it.

Later yesterday, Hsieh's office spokesman Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) criticized the judiciary, claiming that "prosecutors leaked untrue information to the media in an attempt to influence Hsieh's chances in the presidential race."

Meanwhile, Hsu and Hsiao were questioned for the second time yesterday.

The Kaohsiung District Court released Hsu and Hsiao the same day without bail.

Prosecutors Chu Chao-liang (朱朝亮) and Lee Hai-lung (李海龍) of the Supreme Prosecutors Office's special investigation team requested that the district court detain Hsu and Hsiao in connection with the Kaohsiung Development Association donation.

Prosecutors said that Huang had donated NT$1 million in 2001 to the Kaohsiung Development Association in his father's name. Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to his current post.

Prosecutors said they suspected the donation was a bribe in exchange for the post.

The Kaohsiung District Court said the evidence provided by the prosecutors was insufficient.

Additional reporting by Rich Chang