Vice-President in row over $8.3m poll loan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 April, 1998, 12:00am

Taiwan Vice-President Lien Chan yesterday admitted he lent NT$36.24 million (HK$8.33 million) to a former protege later convicted on corruption charges.

The admission came as National Assembly deputy Li Wen-chung filed a formal complaint over the loan with the Control Yuan, Taiwan's highest government watchdog body.

Mr Lien confirmed he made the loan to Wu Tze-yuan in 1993 to help persuade him to run for commissioner in the southern Pingtung County.

Mr Lien said the money was only a loan and urged the public not to read too much into it.

'I haven't even thought' of trying to get the money back, he said, laughing.

Wu also joined the fray yesterday, claiming Mr Li held a grudge against him and had blackmailed him over the loan issue. Mr Lien and his family did not report the loan on his 1993 annual asset report, as required by law, making him susceptible to a fine of between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000.

Under Taiwan law, Wu was only allowed to spend a maximum NT$11 million on his county commissioner's campaign. Mr Lien's loans were more than three times that sum.

Even if Mr Lien had given the money away, Wu should have paid NT$10.95 million in gift taxes. Individual campaign donations are limited to a maximum NT$20,000.

Wu, who won the November 1993 election by a small margin, was given a life sentence in 1996 for accepting NT$26 million in bribes from a contractor when he was head of the provincial government's urban development department in 1992.

Yesterday, the sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison after Wu appealed.