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June 28, 2017

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AAC denies investigating 'high-ranking' official

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Agency Against Corruption (AAC, 廉政署) yesterday denied speculation that it has been investigating and monitoring another "high-ranking" political appointee for over three years.

The AAC's denial came after the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday published a news report claiming that a source at the AAC said former Taoyuan County Deputy Magistrate Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) — who previously served as director-general of the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) — was not the target of an AAC probe.

Yeh currently is detained and held incommunicado pending for formal indictment over an allegation of receiving a bribe for a public affordable housing development project in Taoyuan.

The source said that about three years ago, the AAC, formerly the Government Employee Ethics Unit, received intelligence alleging that a political appointee who served at a governmental ministry allegedly took bribes from several construction consortium companies.

Citing the anonymous source in the AAC, Apple Daily said the AAC has been monitoring the high-ranking official for three years and discovered that the official has maintained close contact with Farglory Group Chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄). Later the AAC accidentally discovered the "abnormal" connection between Yeh and Chao.

The news report claimed that just like Yeh, the political appointee has very good relationships with a lot of high-ranking managers of local construction consortiums, adding that the political appointee is apparently more "skillful" than Yeh in terms of taking bribes, and he or she is more politically influential than Yeh.

The source said a team under the AAC is still investigating the political appointee, adding that if the agency finds enough evidence, not only will the political appointee be removed from his or her post, but over 10 high-level officials will also be involved.

The AAC yesterday responded the news article, saying that the content of the article does not match the truth. The agency said it investigates cases in accordance with the laws, stressing that it has been strictly abiding by the regulation of not disclosing details of any ongoing investigations to the public.

AAC Refuses to Confirm New Report

The AAC yesterday refused to comment on another article published by Next Magazine that claims the AAC has set its sights on several public construction projects in Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli and Taichung that were secured by Farglory.

Given that the AAC and prosecutors recently prevented Farglory's attempt to destroy 69 boxes of documents at a paper recycling plant, the article claimed the prosecutors and the AAC suspect that Farglory might be involved in other cases of bribery to win public construction deals.

The article said if prosecutors find Farglory guilty of corruption, then the heads of the aforementioned Kuomintang-ruled cities and counties would all be affected by the cases.

Chao's Attorney Resigns

As many media outlets argued that it was inappropriate for Chou Tsan-hsiung (周燦雄), Chao's attorney, to release a press statement to the public on behalf of Chao as he is detained and held incommunicado, Chou yesterday said he has resigned from his post. Chou said it is a great insult to accuse him colluding with others by releasing a press statement for Chao, therefore, he decided to resign.

Taipei prosecutors responded that a person who is detained and held incommunicado should not communicate with the public via his attorney, noting that they will investigate the incident.

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