Aide to Taiwan president sentenced
By Kathrin Hille in Taipei
Published: December 13 2006 11:52 | Last updated: December 13 2006 11:52
A former top aide to Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian was sentenced to 12 years in prison on corruption charges Wednesday.
The ruling is the first sentence from a series of corruption scandals involving presidential aides and family members over the past 14 months.
Mr Chen’s wife is to go on trial in Taipei on corruption charges Friday. Another court is due to rule on charges of insider trading against Mr Chen’s son-in-law on December 27.
Wednesday, the Taipei District Court found Chen Che-nan, the president’s former deputy chief of staff, guilty of accepting T$7.1m in bribes from Liang Po-hsun, a construction company chairman to whom he promised help with legal charges. The court found Mr Chen took the money but did not deliver on his promise.
Mr Chen has become a symbol of how people around the president abused their positions for financial gain as the former aide is under investigation in most of the corruption scandals that broke over the past year and threatened the president’s power.
In a separate case, Mr Chen is on trial for allegedly having taken kickbacks for the introduction of Thai workers for the construction of a subway system in Kaohsiung. He is also under investigation for allegedly using presidential office accountants for private stock speculation and interfering with loans from state-owned banks to a financially troubled department store.
Mr Chen denies the accusations and is expected to appeal Wednesday’s verdict.
The sentence and the First Lady’s trial are likely to remind Taiwan’s voters of the many accusations against people connected to Chen Shui-bian’s administration. Prosecutors have accused the First Lady of embezzling state funds and have said that the president is a joint suspect protected from prosecution by official immunity.
Mr Chen felt some relief after he survived another opposition attempt to recall him from office last month and after his party made a surprisingly strong showing in crucial local elections last weekend.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006