Five current and former legislators were yesterday among those found guilty of graft, exercising undue influence and related charges in a large political corruption scandal, with the Taipei District Court handing down sentences ranging from seven to 10 years.
Lawmakers and aides contravened the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over the ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) was sentened to eight-and-a-half years and was ordered to forgo NT$6.2 million (US$207,984) that he accepted as bribes.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
KMT Legislator Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) received a sentence of seven years and eight months for coruption, with NT$1 million confiscated.
Independent Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker, was given the heaviest sentence — a 10-year jail term and NT$15.8 million confiscated for corruption.
Former New Power Party (NPP) legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) was sentenced to seven years and four months for corruption, although the evidence showed that he did not receive bribes.
Independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was found guilty of tax evasion after receiving kickbacks from companies on property deals, the court said.
Chao illicitly reported the money as political donations, it said.
He got a six-month term, which can be commuted to a fine, and was ordered to pay NT$60,000.
Investigators found that Lee was the central figure in the corruption scandal, paying NT$36.54 million in total in bribes to legislators in exchange for holding public hearings at the legislature, putting pressure on government officials and using political influence to help his company gain ownership of Pacific SOGO Department Store, Taipei District Court spokeswoman Huang Pei-chen (黃珮禎) said.
“Lee cooperated during the investigation and agreed to be a state witness, which was pivotal in clarifying the details of the case,” Huang said. “Prosecutors requested a lenient term for Lee, combining four counts of bribery into a 14-month term, which can be commuted to a fine, and fining him NT$10 million.”
The relatively heavy sentences for Chen, Sufin, Su and Hsu were because they did not admit to wrongdoing — including bribetaking — and did not cooperate with the investigation, Huang said.
Kuo Ke-ming (郭克銘), a former aide to Su, received a two-year sentence and was ordered to pay NT$6 million, while Ting Fu-hua (丁復華), Sufin’s office director, was handed a 22-month term and ordered to pay NT$1 million, the court said.
Others embroiled in the scandal were Chen’s office director, Liang Wen-yi (梁文一), who received a five-year term and was ordered to pay NT$500,000, and Chao’s office director, Lin Chia-chi (林家騏), who was sentenced to two years and ordered to pay NT$5.99 million.
After the rulings were announced, Su said that the NT$15.8 million from Lee was a private loan and not a bribe, vowing to appeal.
When he was indicted in September 2020, the DPP suspended Su and he quit the party soon afterward.
Chen and Siluko also had their party rights and privileges suspended after their indictments.
The KMT yesterday said that their suspensions would remain in place pending the end of the legal procedures.
It urged a careful examination of the facts and for the courts to give “reasonable decisions” in the case.
The New Power Party said that it “respects the ruling from the Taipei District Court over the case involving our former chairman, Hsu Yung-ming.”
“We will take political responsibility for the case, which all party members should deem as a warning for the consequences of such actions,” it said in a news release.
“Two years ago, all of our members and supporters experienced a difficult time because of the case, but we have not given up,” it said, adding that it would win back the trust of the people and humbly accept honest criticism.
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan
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