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May 26, 2017

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Five ex-Taoyuan officials questioned in bribery case

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taipei District Prosecutors Office (TDPO) yesterday summoned five reviewing committee members of the Taoyuan Bade public housing project for witness interviews in the alleged bribery case.

The prosecutors' move came after former Taoyuan County Deputy Magistrate Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) on Wednesday for the first time confessed that he asked for a NT$26 million bribe from Farglory Group Chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄).

Yeh, Chao, a senior executive at Farglory Wei Chun-hsiung (魏春雄) and intermediary Tsai Jen-hui (蔡仁惠) are currently detained and held incommunicado.

Taipei prosecutors said the main purpose in summoning the four was to clarify the land expropriation process, the Taoyuan County's plans for the housing project and the bidding process for the government housing project.

The five members were all previously serving in the Taoyuan County Government. The members that were summoned for questioning included former Taoyuan County Government Secretary-General Cheng Rui-cheng (鄭瑞成), former Taoyuan Urban and Rural Development Bureau Commissioner Wu Chi-ming (吳啟民), former Taoyuan Land Administration Bureau Commissioner Lin Hsueh-chien (林學堅) and a Taoyuan County official Chen Chih-ching (陳志清).

The aforementioned people were summoned by prosecutors as witness and were released after questioning yesterday afternoon.

The prosecutors said that the reviewing committee members said that the bidding process was carried out in accordance with the Government Procurement Act.

Citing of one of the witnesses' statement, prosecutor said that the reviewing committee ratified the bidders' qualifications and listened to the bidders' briefings and then gave each a score over the project. Bidders that scored above 80 could enter into the final round of bidding ratification, prosecutors said.

Other Officials Might Be Involved in Bribery: Report

Local media outlet Next Magazine recently published an article claiming that, according to an investigation, four other "high-ranking" officials are involved in cases of bribery with Farglory Group. The article claimed that the four officials include a former political appointee, a politician and two officials serving in a municipal government.

According to the article, as Yeh previously served as the director-general of the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) and had approved several major housing projects, prosecutors are investigating all the relevant official documents signed by Yeh.

The article claimed, moreover, that prosecutors are investigating the Ministry of National Defense's (MND) two land redevelopment projects in Hsinchu, projects carried out by Farglory.

A source in the TDPO yesterday said that although Tsai had expressed his willingness to turn from suspect to a state-witness, the TDPO has yet to approve his request.

Prosecutors said previously that Tsai already confessed to assisting Chao in offering NT$16 million in cash to Yeh to secure Farglory's bid in the Taoyuan housing project, adding that Tsai further claimed that Yeh and Chao were involved in another alleged case of bribery over a public housing project in New Taipei City.

The TDPO said it will evaluate Tsai's statements to see if his case is applicable to the Witness Protection Act.

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