Ex-leader Chen and wife handed new jail terms

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2011, 12:00am


Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian, already jailed for 17 1/2 years for corruption, has received another 18-year prison sentence for accepting bribes in relation to two bank mergers during his time in office.

His wife, Wu Shu-chen, was sentenced to an additional 11 years in prison on top of her 17 1/2-year sentence for corruption.

But legal experts said they were unlikely to spend more than 20 years in jail, based on a legal revision in 2006 that combines sentences if the crimes are similar.

The new convictions were issued yesterday after the Taiwan High Court overruled a district court's acquittal of the couple, dealing a blow to Chen, who had taken heart at the district court's ruling in November.

According to the high court, Chen and Wu accepted some NT$600 million (HK$155 million) in bribes from a group of bankers and business people between 2002 and 2005 to facilitate the merger of two banks with two other financial institutions when Taiwan was staging its second round of financial reform.

'Chen Shui-bian was aware that the promised funds were not simply political contributions, but rather an exchange for aid,' the court said in its verdict.

It sentenced Chen to 18 years in prison and fined him NT$180 million, while Wu was given 11 years and a fine of NT$102 million.

In November, the Taipei District Court cleared the two of the bribery charges on the grounds that Chen was not directly responsible for the financial reform and had no say over which banks should be merged. It regarded the money accepted by the couple as political contributions.

But the high court stressed that while Chen had no direct say in the merger, he could still wield his influence to facilitate the mergers.

Chen's son, Chen Chih-chung, was sentenced to one year in jail, while his daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching, was given a six-month prison term for helping her father-in-law launder money abroad, the high court said.

Chen Shui-bian insisted the new sentences were motivated as part of an effort by the mainland-friendly government of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou to punish him for his promotion of independence.