《TAIPEI TIMES》 Lawmakers face corruption charges
Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau staff carry boxes with documents gathered in connection to a corruption probe involving several legislators in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
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）.
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.