Prosecutors yesterday listed five current and former lawmakers, and four others, as suspects in a corruption probe, and applied to place them in judicial detention.
The move followed raids on the lawmakers’ offices at the Legislative Yuan and other locations on Friday in connection with long-running disputes and litigation over Far Eastern Group’s (遠東集團) takeover of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨), involving a number of politicians, their aides and businesspeople.
After questioning, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office sought charges of corruption and taking bribes totaling NT$40 million (US$1.36 million) against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko, along with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇).
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
Prosecutors have accused Su of taking the highest bribe of about NT$20 million, while NT$9.2 million was found in Chao’s office, believed to be bribe money.
New Power Party (NPP) Chairman Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a former legislator, also faces charges under the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例).
Former DPP legislator Mark Chen (陳唐山), who also faces pending corruption charges, was released in the morning after posting NT$500,000 bail.
Prosecutors applied with the bail court to detain the four current lawmakers and Hsu, as well as former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung (李恆隆) and his three aides, citing the possibility that they could collude on their testimony, tamper with evidence or flee abroad.
Lee has since 2002 been embroiled in disputes and litigation against Far Eastern Group chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) over the ownership of Pacific Sogo, with courts ruling in favor of both parties in separate verdicts.
When summoned by prosecutors for questioning on Friday night, Lee denied the bribery charges, while confirming that he had given NT$20 million to Su, saying that it was a loan, which Su had paid back.
The other lawmakers are suspected of receiving smaller bribes, the prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also questioned three men who are suspected of acting as “white gloves” in the case — Knowledge International Consultancy (是知管理顧問公司) general manager and political lobbyist Kuo Ke-ming (郭克銘), Tonlin Department Store (統領百貨) general manager Weng Hua-li (翁華利), and Singaporean businessman George Guek (郭明忠), founder of Singapore-based BreadTalk Group.
Investigators reportedly have evidence and witness testimony that Kuo, Weng and Guek had personal ties with Lee, and joined forces to wrestle back control of Pacific Sogo from Douglas Hsu and his Far Eastern Group.
Lee allegedly sought a business partnership with Guek’s firm to boost capital and became a major shareholder in Lee’s Pacific Distribution Investment.
He also allegedly urged BreadTalk Group to launch an international business lawsuit over accusations that Douglas Hsu’s subsidiary firm in 2002 forged documents to falsify capitalization figures to gain control of Pacific Sogo.
Following questioning, Weng was released on NT$2 million bail and the lawmakers’ aides were released on NT$100,000 bail each, while prosecutors were still questioning Kuo as of press time last night.
In an investigation into Chao allegedly pressuring a Ministry of the Interior department to rezone a plot of land to benefit development inside Yangmingshan National Park, funeral service business owners Chung Ke-hsin (鍾克信) and Chen Ming-han (陳明瀚) were released on bail of NT$1 million and NT$300,000 respectively.
The implicated legislators were members of the legislature’s Finance Committee or allegedly lobbied for Lee’s efforts to regain control of Pacific Sogo, and questioned the legality of Douglas Hsu taking over the company.
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten