Chiayi magistrate indicted for graft
By Katherine Wei ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- After a yearlong probe, Chiayi County Magistrate Helen Chang (張花冠) was indicted yesterday by the Chiayi District Prosecutors office on corruption charges stemming from her involvement in the construction of the Vanilla and Herbal Medicine Biotechnology Park (香草藥草生物科技園區).
August 17, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Chang's predecessor, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), as well as Chang Jing-sen (張景森), former deputy minister of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, avoided indictment due to a lack of evidence in spite of being suspected as the brains behind the scheme.
Chiayi prosecutors said yesterday that Chang had abused her power as a legislator, receiving NT$20 million in cash and NT$10 million in checks while having her assistant withdraw the money from her bank account in small amounts to avoid rousing suspicion from the bank.
In response to her indictment, Chang said that she was not surprised. “What can I say? This is what I was expecting to happen. But this (the indictment) is a political setup,” Chang insisted.
The head of Chen's legislative office relayed Chen's words over the results of the probe, saying that Chen had been reluctant to pay the bail when he had been detained last year with Chang as he is innocent. “The results have finally restored my innocence,” Chen was quoted as saying.
The investigation of the controversial case began three years ago, when the Taichung District Prosecutors Office was tipped off about an alleged corruption case concerning the construction of the park. It then transferred the case to its Chiayi counterpart, which collaborated with the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office. Chang was serving as a DPP legislator at the time.
Chang had been detained for interrogation along with Chen in August of last year but they were released on bail of NT$3 million and NT$1 million, respectively. Four months later, Chang was named as a defendant and later indicted on allegations that the park's construction company Chun Lung Co.'s (春龍公司) General Manager Pan Chun-hao (潘忠豪) had given NT$30 million to Chang in loans and political donations.
Chang's sister Chang Ying-chi (張瑛姬) and 21 other professors and construction organizers were indicted at the same time, and the Kaohsiung Prosecutors Office then said it suspected the sisters of receiving more than NT$7 million for their involvement in the construction case.
The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office said in 2011 they received a report indicating that local government officials disclosed to local businesses the budget of bids and the lists of eligible candidates to committees responsible for choosing the winning bidders. These firms allegedly paid money to officials to choose people to be committee members in order to successfully manipulate the bidding process.