Former aide to Chen charged with fraud

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 April, 2006, 12:00am

Taiwan's judiciary yesterday charged a former close aide of President Chen Shui-bian with fraud over his alleged role in a corruption case, dealing yet another blow to the government.

'We have found Chen Che-nan to be a suspect in a major fraud. To prevent him from colluding with others to fabricate and destroy evidence or to run away, we decided to seek the court's approval for detaining him,' said Lin Ban-liang, spokesman of the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office.

Prosecutors yesterday questioned Chen for 13 hours over his alleged role in an NT$6 million ($1.4 million) political contribution fund, which former fugitive businessman Liang Po-hsun claimed was meant as a bribe.

Chen was previously the deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office.

According to the prosecutors, Liang, the former chairman of the Hsinchiehchung Construction Company and a board director of the Overseas Chinese Bank, fled to the mainland in March 2003 after allegedly embezzling NT$5.3 billion from the bank.

He was later sentenced to one year in prison for the embezzlement and 14 months' jail for forging his construction company's contracts.

Liang, who returned to Taiwan last weekend and was promptly arrested, sought help from Chen while on the mainland. Chen allegedly told him he could help bribe the judge to reduce his sentences, but Liang claimed he discovered that Chen had pocketed the money, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Liang had produced copies of two cheques for a total of NT$6 million which he said had been sent to the account of a friend of Chen.

The latest case, which came just a day after President Chen's hand-picked grand justice resigned over an alleged sex scandal, has dealt yet another blow to the Chen government.