A report on a corruption case involving former Supreme Court judge Shih Mu-chin (石木欽) and businessman Weng Mao-chung (翁茂鍾) would be submitted to the Executive Yuan on Monday next week as ordered by lawmakers, Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) told a legislative session on budget allocation yesterday.
About 200 judicial and government officials — including judges, prosecutors, judicial investigators, high-ranking bureaucrats and police officials — have been linked to the case amid probes into allegations of misconduct, illegal profits, influenced court rulings, conflicts of interest and insider trading, although Tsai refused to confirm the number.
“The 200 figure did not come from me,” Tsai said. “It came from media reports, but I am not certain where they obtained that information.”
Tsai told lawmakers that the Ministry of Justice’s (MOJ) report has been completed, but is undergoing some revisions and information checks after it was allowed an extension of its original deadline of Friday last week.
The investigation was headed by a team of prosecutors and the ministry’s ethics department, he said.
The Control Yuan in August last year began impeachment proceedings against Shih over alleged breaches of the Judges Act (法官法) and failing to avoid conflicts of interest.
The case was opened in 2019 after Shih was accused of maintaining a friendship with Chia Her Industrial Co president Weng Mao-chung (翁茂鍾) after Weng became embroiled in legal disputes.
A Control Yuan investigation said that Shih did not recuse himself when Weng appeared in his court and allegedly provided Weng with legal advice on the side.
Control Yuan member Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) said that Shih used his son’s name to purchase 10,000 shares in LandMark Optoelectronics, a company owned by Weng, for NT$11 per share, before selling the shares in 2014 for at least NT$300 each after LandMark became a listed company.
The Control Yuan in September last year released a report that named people from 27 notebooks in Weng’s possession that recorded dining events he had attended from 1997 to 2003.
The entries provided details such as time and date, those who attended and their positions, along with court cases at the time and items to be bought for judicial officials.
The report said that the lists included former Supreme Court judges Yen Nan-chuan (顏南全), Hua Man-tang (花滿堂) and Hsieh Chia-ho (謝家鶴); former Supreme Administrative Court president Lin Chi-fu (林奇福); former Supreme Court chief judge Wu Hsiung-ming (吳雄銘); prosecutors Chu Hong-yu (曲鴻煜) and Lo Jung-chien (羅榮乾); and former Investigation Bureau Taipei Field Station section chief Chin Tai-sheng (秦台生).
The report also named Kaohsiung City Police Department Chief Liu Po-liang (劉柏良), National Police Agency adviser Chou Yu-wei (周幼偉) and former Coast Guard Administration director-general Wang Chung-yi (王崇儀).
Liu took early retirement last week.
At a meeting last month to check the ministry’s preliminary report, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that the case “showed how insiders play the game.”
“This case has severely damaged our nation’s justice system, its reputation to carry out justice based on the principles of equality and fairness for all people, and eroded the public’s trust in the government,” said Control Yuan member Wang Mei-yu (王美玉), who headed the Control Yuan probe along with fellow member Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠).
The Control Yuan report highlighted a situation in the late 1990s, when Weng was in a legal dispute with UK-based Barclays Bank over a US$10 million check used as a collateral to cover his company’s financial losses of US$9.46 million.
Barclays initially got a court approval as a creditor to make payments on the check, but the probe found that Weng had enabled Shih to earn illicit profits estimated at more than NT$50 million (US$1,76 million at the current exchange rate), through insider trading and speculation on company stocks controlled by Weng, the report said.
The Control Yuan probe said that Weng was “buying influence” first through Shih and via him through other officials to secure favorable decisions in the Barclays case.
Weng won the case and did not have to pay the US$10 million.
Control Yuan members told Su that the case had seriously affected the nation’s international image of good governance and would harm its evaluation in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
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