Investigators yesterday searched the offices and homes of six current and former lawmakers, in connection with a corruption probe over allegations of taking bribes and other illegal activities arising from disputes in Far Eastern Group’s (遠東集團) takeover of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨).
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明), Sufin Siluko and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) were taken in for questioning at the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau office.
Photo: Chen Yun, Taipei Times
Also under investigation were independent legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇), former New Power Party legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) and former DPP lawmaker Mark Chen (陳唐山).
The massive operation, with raids at 65 locations, involved 230 judicial investigators and bureau officers, coordinated by 34 prosecutors, who had search warrants and summonses to question 63 people and seize documents.
Former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung (李恆隆) and Knowledge International Consultancy (是知管理顧問公司) general manager and political lobbyist Kuo Ke-ming (郭克銘) are reportedly at the center of the investigation, as they allegedly passed bribes to the six lawmakers, with up to NT$20 million (US$677,920) allegedly changing hands.
Investigators have also reportedly uncovered NT$9.2 million in cash, allegedly received as bribes at one of legislator’s homes.
Lee since 2002 had been embroiled in a long-running dispute with Far Eastern Group chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) over ownership of Pacific Sogo.
Taipei prosecutors in 2006 indicted Lee, Hsu and others for forgery and breach of trust related to their roles in dealings with Pacific Sogo.
The corruption probe centered on efforts to amend Article 9 of the Company Act (公司法), deliberated in the Legislative Finance Committee. The amendments addressed penalties associated with withdrawing a company’s incorporation when its owner or persons with controlling shares are indicated on forgery or related charges, which would have allegedly benefited Lee’s efforts to take back control of the department store.
In July 2018, the bill passed its third reading in the legislature, with five of the six politicians under investigation alleged to have taken bribes from Lee in exchange for gaining their respective parties’ support to expedite approval of the amendments.
Kuo, who was previously chief of Su’s legislative office, allegedly acted on behalf of Lee in distributing money to the politicians.
Prosecutors also accused Kuo of working for proprietors of funeral services companies Chen Ming-han (陳明瀚) and Chung Ke-hsin (鍾克信) on development projects on land within Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園) in Taipei.
They said he allegedly gave bribes to Chao, and other unspecified lawmakers, to pressure government agencies for rezoning permits.
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