A senior official in Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's government has confessed to accepting at least NT$63 million (HK$16.6 million) in bribes from a businessman when he was a legislator two years ago.
Lin Yi-shih, the secretary general of the cabinet until he resigned from his post on Friday, had originally strongly denied accusations he had accepted the bribes.
Taiwanese prosecutors arrested Lin yesterday after he was taken to prosecutors on Sunday for an overnight interrogation, where he confessed to the wrongdoing.
A court ordered yesterday that he be detained in custody for two months while prosecutors continued their investigation.
Yesterday's arrest of Lin dealt a heavy blow to Ma, who had vowed to run a clean government, unlike the graft-tainted administration headed by his disgraced predecessor Chen Shui-bian, who has been jailed for corruption.
In a brief statement issued through his lawyer yesterday, Lin expressed regrets over his wrongdoing and dereliction of duty. 'I have set an extremely bad example to the public,' he said, adding he felt sorry for letting down his family, his superiors and the public, and especially those in the legislature and cabinet who had trusted and supported him.
Lin, considered a political rising star who was being groomed by Ma, said he was willing to face trial and legal punishment for his wrongdoing. He also said he would return all the illegal gains to the authorities and engage in community service in the future to show his repentance.
Lin had repeatedly lashed out at corruption scandals implicating opposition legislators.
His confession shocked the government, with both Ma and Premier Sean Chen apologising to the public over Lin's implication in the corruption scandal. 'I feel very regretful and apologetic for Lin's implication in the judicial case,' Ma said after attending the opening of an academic conference in Taipei. Chen said his cabinet would strengthen discipline within the government to try to prevent similar cases.
The scandal came to light after the Taiwanese edition of Next Magazine published a report last week saying that while serving as a legislator two years ago, Lin received NT$63 million from the owner of a company in the southern city of Kaohsiung to help it receive a contract from a government-controlled steel firm.
The report said that Lin, who failed to be re-elected as a legislator in January and was made secretary general of the cabinet in February, allegedly demanded that the businessman pay another NT$83 million in bribes in order to renew the contract. Feeling that Lin had asked too much, the businessman revealed the case to the magazine.