Chen Shui-bian quits party amid new scandal

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2008, 12:00am

Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian has quit the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) amid a scandal of alleged money laundering that sparked an outcry from supporters.

'I must say sorry to DPP members and supporters because I let everybody down and caused irreparable damage to the party,' he said in a statement yesterday before the DPP held an urgent meeting to discuss how to deal with his case.

'For this, my wife Wu Shu-chen and I leave the party from now.'

Mr Chen, no stranger to scandals, is embroiled in yet another after Swiss judicial authorities sought Taiwan's help for a probe into suspected money laundering allegedly involving his son, Chen Chih-chung, and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching.

Mr Chen admitted on Thursday to wrongdoing for not honestly declaring previous campaign donation funds in line with the island's Sunshine Law, which requires all senior officials to declare their assets.

He blamed his wife for not telling him that she had remitted the remainder of the funds abroad, but denied the funds had anything to do with money laundering or were related to the alleged embezzlement of NT$14.8 million (HK$3.7 million) in state funds, for which his wife is being tried and he is under investigation.

Mr Chen was questioned by prosecutors for two hours last night, during which he repeated what he had said publicly on Thursday about the campaign donations.

Swiss authorities told Taiwan two accounts in the Cayman Islands set up by a Swiss bank for Mr Chen's son and daughter-in-law were suspicious as there were unusual fund transfers, the source of which the daughter-in-law could not explain.

They asked Taiwan to provide information on the couple's employment and savings, as well as the probe into Mr Chen's alleged role in the state fund embezzlement case.

The latest scandal prompted an angry outcry from DPP supporters, mindful of a string of corruption scandals implicating Mr Chen and his family in the past several years.

DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen admitted that the new case had had a negative impact on the party and eroded public support for it. She apologised to supporters and said her party supported a 'fair probe into the case by the judicial authorities'.

Taiwanese Premier Liu Chao-shiuan said judicial authorities in Taiwan had already started an investigation, while the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said it had sent a prosecutor to Switzerland this week in relation to the case.

But Taipei prosecutors said Mr Chen's son and daughter-in-law left for the US last Saturday, making questioning of the couple impossible at the moment.