Lai Su-ju denies involvement in Twin Towers controversy
By Lauly Li ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如) denied her involvement in the controversial Twin Towers bidding process in a court session yesterday, claiming that money she received from a real estate developer was a political donation.
August 10, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
Lai, a former aide of President Ma Ying-jeou, was indicted by Taipei prosecutors in July over allegations of bribery in the Twin Towers development project. Lai was detained and held incommunicado at the end of March.
During the court session, Lai complained to the judge saying that she is only allowed to take a shower once a day in weather that is so hot that has caused heat rash all over her body.
“Do I really have to be detained?” Lai asked the judge.
Lai said she has cooperated with Taipei prosecutors since she was detained in March. Lai said that she is not a “bad person,” noting that she hopes the judge will “think about the set of balances behind him,” and give her a fair trial and allow her to be bailed out.
Taipei prosecutors said Lai allegedly asked for NT$15 million from a now-disqualified Twin Towers bidder, Taipei Gateway International Development Co., Ltd. (TGID, 太極雙星).
At the time of the alleged transgressions Lai was the Taipei City Council's transportation whip. Prosecutors have alleged that Lai, given her position, was asked to ensure TGID win the bid.
Prosecutors said the TGID planned to give Lai NT$10 million in total, and divide the cash into increments of NT$1 million, NT$3 million and NT$6 million at different points in the bidding process. Peng Chien-ming (彭建銘), a local real estate developer, allegedly gave Lai the first installment of NT$1 million, prosecutors said, adding that Lai never received the other installments as the TGID failed to fulfill the stipulated terms of the Twin Towers development project and lost the bid in February.
Lai however said the NT$1 million provided by Peng was not a bribe but a political donation to her. Peng was considered to be close with Lai.
Lai's lawyer said Peng asked for funds from Chia Erh-ching (賈二慶), a former official with the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS), and that these funds were to be given to Lai. Lai, however, was not aware of the connection or that the funds were intended as a bribe, the lawyer said. The lawyer also questioned the veracity of Peng's version of events.
Peng and Chia were also in attendance at the court session as defendants.
An audio recording, which prosecutors claim connects Lai to the transgressions, was featured in the court proceedings. Lai's lawyer said the recordings provided by Taipei prosecutors are incomplete and therefore there is the possibility that Taipei prosecutors have misinterpreted their content and in turn cast their gaze on Lai.
In response, the Taipei prosecutor said that the recordings “may be” involved in another ongoing investigation. In light of this, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office will discuss a proposal to allow other people to examine the audio recordings.
During the court session, Lai applied for bail. Peng and Chia asked for a ban against them leaving to the country to be lifted.
The Taipei Court set the next court session for Aug. 23.