Businessman claims he has kickback evidence

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 - Page 3

A businessman who accused Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) of demanding kickbacks in a golf club development project said on Wednesday he has submitted supporting evidence to investigators.

Chiu Shun-chung (邱順鐘), owner of Nan Fong Golf Club in Nantou, accused Cho of demanding bribes of NT$120 million (US$4.14 million) to secure all the necessary permits for the development of Chang Nung Golf Club in Changhua, which was funded by the Changhua County Farmers’ Association.

Chiu said he had handed prosecutors an audio recording of a conversation between Chiu’s assistant and a cousin of Lai Wen-jen, chairman of the Taipei-based Wei Mon Industry Co.

Lai, a major contributor to Cho’s campaign, approached Chiu as Cho’s proxy and asked for an initial sum of NT$50 million, and a further NT$70 million to be paid after all the required permits were issued, Chiu said at a press conference on Wednesday, at which his attorney was also present.

The businessman said he was willing to pay NT$10 million, but not the amount Cho was seeking.

Chiu said he was told by a former director of the county’s Economic Affairs Department, surnamed Chou (周), that Cho’s approval would be required to obtain the permits to build the golf club.

Another county official advised that the soil excavated from the building site should be given free of charge to the county government in order to obtain Cho’s approval for the project, Chiu said.

According to the latest issue of the Chinese-language Next Magazine, Chiu said it only took two years to obtain three major permits from the central government, including an environmental impact assessment, but the county government had delayed other minor permits, thus stalling the project.

Chiu held the press conference after Cho earlier on Wednesday filed an aggravated defamation lawsuit against him at the Changhua District Prosecutors’ Office.

Cho denied the corruption allegations, saying Chiu had fabricated the story.

Cho said the golf club project was not approved because it did not meet the relevant regulations and that an administrative appeal filed by Chiu had also been dismissed.