TAIWAN

Taiwan drops graft charges against former top officials

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2012, 1:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2012, 1:55pm
AFP

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Taiwanese prosecutors said on Wednesday they had decided to drop charges against two former top officials in a corruption case involving nearly US$30 million embezzled from the government.

A businessman had accused former vice premier Chiou I-jen and former foreign minister James Huang of “splitting” the diplomatic fund with him in 2006 under the island’s previous government.

However, prosecutors said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence to prove that “Chiou and Huang took any actions to embezzle the public fund or colluded or collabourated with the businessmen”.

Chiou and Huang resigned in May 2008 over the scandal in which two businessmen allegedly pocketed the money earmarked to help diplomatically-isolated Taiwan forge official ties with Papua New Guinea.

The businessmen were entrusted with the money by the foreign ministry as they claimed to have good connections with officials in the Pacific nation but allegedly made no progress in bringing about ties.

One of the businessman, who made the accusation, is serving a jail term on embezzlement and forgery convictions in the same case, while the other is believed to have fled to the United States.

Taiwan and China long accused each other of using generous financial packages to woo each other’s diplomatic allies away until ties improved markedly after the island’s Beijing-friendly government took power in 2008.