The Taiwan High Court’s Taichung branch yesterday sentenced Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) to seven-and-a-half years in prison for his part in a land deal scandal.
Gao was charged with accepting a NT$500,000 (US$16,700) bribe from Dong Feng Ge, a Taichung-based company that operates restaurants, in return for helping the company win the right to lease land belonging to the National Property Administration (NPA).
Gao was sentenced to five-and-a -half years in prison by the Taichung District Court, although a second trial at the Taiwan High Court’s Taichung branch found him not guilty.
After prosecutors brought the case to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ordered a retrial, the High Court’s Taichung branch found Gao guilty in accordance with the Anti-Corruption Act (貪汙治罪條例).
The High Court’s Taichung branch sentenced Gao to seven- and-a-half years in prison and he will have his civil rights deprived for four years.
The ruling said Gao could appeal the ruling with the Supreme Court.
An aide to Gao, Yao Sheng-chih (姚昇志), was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison for his role in the same case, but was granted probation by the court.
The ruling said Yao received NT$2 million from Dong Feng Ge in exchange for Gao’s promise to lobby the NPA to help the company win the rights to lease a piece of land.
The ruling added that Yao took NT$1.5 million from the NT$2 million bribe, while Gao had summoned NPA Director Kuo Wu-po (郭武博) and other agency officials to legislative meetings so he could ask them about leasing the land to Chen’s company.
The land in question is located on Taichung’s Tungying Second Street and is about 1,600 ping (5,289m2).
Dong Feng Ge had planned to build a hotel on the land, which prosecutors said would have been worth NT$160 million.
At a news conference later yesterday, Gao maintained his innocence and vowed to appeal the case, saying that the verdict could be the result of his former aide’s plea bargain in exchange of probation.
“It is going to be a tough battle for me, but I’m determined to fight it, and I believe justice and truth will prevail,” Gao said.
Gao said he knew nothing of Yao’s secret deal nor had he contacted and pressured government officials, adding: “The only mistake I’ve made was hiring [Yao] and failing to run a tight ship in my office.”
Gao’s lawyer, Richard Lee (李勝琛), criticized the judges for basing the verdict solely on Yao’s testimony, despite testimony from officials in the first and second trial saying that Gao had never lobbied in the case and they had never met Gao personally.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang