Law enforcement officials yesterday raided the offices of the New Taipei City Government, the New Taipei City Council and real-estate developer Farglory Group (遠雄集團) to collect evidence and summoned 60 people for questioning in a probe into allegations of bribe-taking by city officials.
Farglory Group chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) New Taipei City Councilor Chou Sheng-kao (周勝考), as well as five city officials were among the people who were questioned.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office coordinated with the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption (AAC) and other judicial units to carry out the raids at 50 locations.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Prosecutors are looking into allegations that company executives bribed councilors and government officials to expedite the review and monitoring process, circumvent an environmental impact assessment and other required steps to obtain approvals for construction projects in the city’s Tucheng (土城) and Sinjhuang (新莊) districts, among other places.
Hai Chih-ping (海治平), the deputy chief in charge of engineering and construction works at New Taipei City Urban and Rural Development Department was also brought in for questioning.
Hai is responsible for monitoring the approval process for the development projects.
One focus of the probe is a 14-hectare plot in Tucheng District, which Farglory purchased in 2007 to build a residential complex for 2,500 households.
However, some local residents and environmental groups said that 60 percent of the land is hilly terrain with a history of landslides and flash floods, and had been designated as a potential geo-hazard.
The land also contained several cultural relics and should not be open to development, they said.
Prosecutors said some city officials, along with some councilors, expedited the process of changing the area’s classification from a class 2 industrial zone into residential development zone.
The councilors also pushed through an extemporaneous motion to approve an environmental impact assessment report.
Chao is also being investigated for allegedly illegally transferring company assets and other illicit financial transactions related to several construction projects of Farglory Group’s insurance and real-estate development subsidiaries in 2007, for which he received large sums of money as “consultant fees.”
Prosecutors said the investigation would focus on charges on fraud, breach of trust, embezzlement, forgery of documents, along with violations of the Securities and Exchange Act (證券交易法) and the Businenss Entity Accounting Act (商業會計法).
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