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Prosecutors to investigate Cabinet bribery allegations

Prosecutors will launch an investigation into bribery allegations against Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih, officials said yesterday.

Lin dismissed all allegations, saying he will sue Next weekly magazine for carrying a story in its latest issue that claimed he took bribes from a company.

The Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office has collected information from Next magazine to serve as a basis for its probe, said the task force's spokesman, Chen Hung-ta.

According to Next, Lin allegedly took NT$63 million from Chen Chi-hsiang, the owner of Kaohsiung-based Ti Yung Co. two years ago in return for help to secure a slag treatment contract from China Steel Corp. (CSC).

Lin was then a Kuomintang (KMT) legislator elected from Kaohsiung.

Earlier this year, Lin allegedly demanded another NT$83 million from Chen when Ti Yung was looking to renew the CSC contract.

When Chen refused to pay up, Next claimed, Lin had CSC stop supplying slag to Ti Yung in April. At the time, Lin had already become secretary-general of the Cabinet.

Lin responded to the report quickly by calling a press conference, during which he dismissed the corruption allegations as “totally unfounded.”

He said he is also collecting relevant data in preparation for a lawsuit against the magazine.

Lin admitted that Chen did visit him at his home after he had become the Cabinet's secretary-general, but denied that their meeting was about such a deal.

Lin stressed that CSC suspended slag supply to Ti Yung after receiving orders from Kaohsiung's environmental authorities that determined the company had violated environmental regulations.

“How can I be held responsible for a decision by the Kaohsiung City Government to suspend your business?” Lin asked during the short press conference. “How am I supposed to dictate what the Kaohsiung City Government does?”

CSC said in a statement that it stopped supplying slag to Ti Yung after the company violated the contract by depositing excess amounts of the industrial waste.

According to CSC, it received a notification from Kaohsiung's Environmental Protection Bureau on March 23 saying Ti Yung had been banned from accepting new slag because the company was already storing “a large amount of metal slag.”

Although it revoked the ban on June 1, the bureau required Ti Yung to remove the metal slag it had stored at six different sites within six months.

CSC said it will continue to suspend slag supplies to Ti Yung until the situation is improved.

President Ma Ying-jeou, after being informed of the allegations, told Lin to provide a clear explanation to the public, said presidential spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi.

Ma stressed that incorruptibility is the most basic moral standard for civil servants and that the same criterium should apply to all members of his administration.

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Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih smiles while on his way to a press conference where he dismissed bribery allegations against him in Taipei, yesterday. He vowed to sue Next ...

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