Arms-buy boss named in probe

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2008, 12:00am

Taiwan's Defence Ministry confirmed yesterday that a key officer was under investigation over his involvement with an ill-fated arms-purchase company that is set to be shut down tomorrow.

'The defence minister has ordered that the Political Warfare Department and the Military Prosecution Office investigate the case, and director Wu has been questioned,' Major General Chi Yu-lan, a Defence Ministry spokeswoman, told a news conference.

She was referring to armament department director Wu Wei-jung, who was asked to help set up Taiwan Goal, a nominally private arms purchase company to help the island acquire sophisticated weapons from other countries.

The quiet establishment of Taiwan Goal in late January, outside the monitoring of the legislature, prompted lawmakers with the opposition Kuomintang to accuse the ruling Democratic Progressive Party of trying to channel funds into its own pocket before President Chen Shui-bian's second term ends on May 20. The Defence Ministry was to have had a 25 per cent stake in the firm.

Under pressure from the opposition, the Chen government finally announced that the company would be officially disbanded tomorrow. DPP stalwart Wu Nai-jen, chairman of the multibillion-dollar company, has also announced his resignation.

General Chi declined to comment further, saying an investigation was still under way.

She denied, however, that Taiwan Goal had contracted to buy Aster surface-to-air missiles from France, as Taiwanese media had reported.