Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) sued a local businessman yesterday for aggravated defamation after the man accused Cho of demanding kickbacks in a golf course development project in the central county.
Chiu Shun-chung (邱順鐘), owner of Nan Fong Golf Club in Nantou, accused Cho of asking for NT$120 million (US$4.14 million) for Chiu to obtain the permits needed for another golf course development project in the county, according to the latest issue of the Chinese-language Next Magazine.
Cho, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), filed the lawsuit at the Changhua District Prosecutors’ Office, saying that he has never met Chiu, has never talked with him on the telephone and that Chiu fabricated the story.
Cho said 20 years have passed and four different county commissioners have been in office since the application for the Chang Nung Golf Club, which is funded by investment from the Changhua County Farmers’ Association, was filed.
Cho said the application was never approved because it did not conform to regulations, and an administrative appeal filed by Chiu was also dismissed.
According to the magazine report, Chiu said it took only two years for him to obtain three major permits from the central government, including an environmental impact assessment, but the county government delayed other minor permits, preventing the development from going ahead.
Chiu said that Lai Wen-cheng (賴文正), chairman of the Taipei-based Wei Mon Industry Co, who is also Cho’s major campaign contributor, approached Chiu as Cho’s proxy and asked for NT$50 million as a first payment, with a demand for a further NT$70 million after Chiu received all of the required permits.
The report said Chiu’s assistant, surnamed Tung (董), recorded a conversation between Tung and Lai’s cousin on another occasion that could be used against Cho, in which Tung said the maximum they could offer was NT$30 million.
Chiu said the development project has since been stalled because they refused to pay Cho.
The magazine said Lai’s company had obtained county government public tenders worth at least NT$4.5 billion during Cho’s tenure as county chief.
In response, Cho said Wei Mon has not been in charge of any public project in the county since he took office and he accused the magazine of intentionally damaging his reputation.
Cho’s younger brother, Cho Po-chung (卓伯仲), has also been accused of corruption. He has been detained since early this week on suspicion of manipulating several tenders in the county and for allegedly receiving kickbacks from a contractor.