《TAIPEI TIMES》Five politicians charged with graft
Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office Deputy Chief Prosecutor Chen Yu-ping speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter, with CNA
Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening 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 the Far Eastern Group （遠東集團） over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store （太平洋崇光百貨） chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu （趙正宇） was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park.
Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） legislators Chen Chao-ming （陳超明） and Sufin Siluko （廖國棟）, Democratic Progressive Party （DPP） Legislator Su Chen-ching （蘇震清） and former New Power Party legislator Hsu Yung-ming （徐永明） were indicted for allegedly taking bribes from Lee, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said.
Also indicted were Lee, Su’s former aide Kuo Ke-ming （郭克銘） and four of the lawmakers’ aides, as well as Trend Survey and Research Co （趨勢民意調查股份有限公司） general manager Wu Shih-chang （吳世昌）, who is accused of helping Lee hold public hearings.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Chen Yu-ping （陳玉萍） said that the five politicians allegedly conspired with wealthy conglomerates for personal profit, which had endangered the nation’s governance based on fairness and justice, and subverted the rules of ethical conduct for officials and civil bureaucrats.
“The cases also severely undermined the Constitution’s separation of powers between the branches of government, through the Legislative Yuan’s power to interfere with the Executive Yuan’s power and obstruct the power of the Judicial Yuan,” she said.
“They have resulted in political turmoil, and immense damage to our constitutional order and liberal democracy. Therefore, we have asked the court to mete out heavy punishment with the strongest sentences as a deterrent,” she added.
In their indictments, prosecutors said that Lee had made payments to the four lawmakers since 2013 to buy influence and help him regain ownership of Pacific SOGO, one of the most profitable department store chains in the nation.
Lee has been fighting with Far Eastern Group chairman Douglas Hsu （徐旭東） over Pacific SOGO’s ownership since the early 2000s.
At the heart of the issue is whether Far Eastern’s capital injection of NT$4.01 billion （US$137.53 million at the current exchange rate） into Pacific SOGO from 2002 to 2008 was legal and gave it ownership by making it the largest shareholder.
As elected representatives, the five had the responsibility to exercise their legislative power for the benefit of all citizens, to check the power of government authorities against individuals, and to avoid conflicts of interests, the prosecutors’ office said in a statement.
“However, Su and other legislators allegedly willingly engaged in corrupt activities from 2012 to the time of their arrest, taking bribes to sell their power as legislators, turning into servants of businessman Lee Heng-lung, while abusing their power as legislators to hold public hearings, and use negotiation sessions, budget reviews and legislators’ interpellation periods to intimidate and threaten government officials, to reach the decision desired by Lee Heng-lung,” the statement said.
Prosecutors suspect the bribes allegedly paid since 2013 were aimed at pressuring the Ministry of Economic Affairs to amend the Company Act’s （公司法） clauses on capital increases and make them retroactive so that Pacific Distribution Investment could maintain control of Pacific SOGO, after the Supreme Administrative Court ruled, in the final verdict in the case, that Far Eastern Group was the rightful owner.
Lee last year sold part of his shares in Pacific Distribution Investment to a new company so he could continue his battle under the new firm’s name.
Prosecutors have alleged that the quartet received money from Lee to pressure the ministry on his behalf.
The men responded by holding a round of public hearings in December last year to pressure the ministry to change the Company Act, they said.
Prosecutors said they believe that Kuo, who now runs a political consulting company, served as an intermediary for Lee in delivering the bribes, as well as bribes allegedly given to Chao in the other case.
Prosecutors also alleged that Su accepted more than NT$25.8 million from Lee, while Sufin allegedly took NT$7.9 million and Chen NT$1 million.
As for independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu （趙正宇）, the prosecutors’ office said he took bribes from two funeral service companies to pressure the Construction and Planning Agency to allow a cemetery to be built in a national park.
The agency did change the zoning of the land to make it available for private use.
During a raid of Chao’s home in Taoyuan’s Bade District （八德）, prosecutors found NT$9.2 million in cash in a bag, which is believed to be the bribe Kuo delivered to the lawmaker on behalf of the two firms.
A bail hearing for Chen, Sufin, Su and Chao at the Taipei District Court was ongoing as of press time last night.