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Prosecutors announce that they will attempt to take out Lee Teng-hui for the crime of
Former President Lee Teng-hui, one of the towering figures of modern Taiwanese politics, was indicted Thursday on charges of embezzling from a state fund, becoming the island's second ex-leader to run afoul of the judiciary.The strategy once again gives every appearance of being to smear the DPP's leaders with corruption charges to tarnish their legacy and reduce their influence. Smart. This will also enable a steady flow of negative news about the pro-democracy side during the upcoming election period. Lee must know where a lot of skeletons are in KMT closets, though.
Prosecutor Chen Hong-ta said Lee and top aide Liu Tai-ying had been charged with embezzling $7.79 million from a secret diplomatic fund.
In a statement, prosecutors said Lee embezzled the money from a National Security Bureau fund to set up a think tank meant to serve his private office after he left political life.
"Lee Teng-hui pocketed $7.79 million for his own personal use through money-laundering," the statement said. "In order to set up the Taiwan Research Institute, he consulted with his advisers and decided to get the money from a National Security Bureau project fund."
Prosecutors began looking into the case after Lee stepped down in 2000, and three years later charged the NSB's chief accountant with corruption. Those charges were eventually dropped for lack of evidence.
Lee has repeatedly denied embezzling any NSB funds. His office had no immediate comment Thursday but said his lawyers would hold a news conference later in the day.
Anyone remember the case of the missing documents?
Question on a listserv when this was posted: Who's next?
Whatever happens, this is likely to further exacerbate the split between the pro-China and pro-Taiwan sides in Taiwan politics and presages a brutal, bitter election season.
ADDED: A friend reminds that Tsai Ing-wen served on the National Security Council under Lee. She is likely the target by-proxy here. This will be accompanied by the usual nonsense accusations from the attack dogs of the other party.
ADDED: Another smart friend posits that the idea is to smear Tsai with dirty money allegations -- saying she was in on the establishment of the think tank that Lee allegedly embezzled the money for. This will harm her with people who like her clean image and reinforce the view that the KMT and DPP are the same anyway.
ADDED: Another friend points out that this may well be an attempt to rally the base.
LINKS: FocusTaiwan has some details of alleged money flows, etc. BBC's report. WSJ's report is the best of the bunch by far.
MEDIA NOTE: AP writes:
Chen Shui-bian, who ended the Nationalists' 50-year monopoly on power when he succeeded Lee, is currently serving a 17-year jail term after being convicted on wide-ranging corruption charges.Chen was not "convicted on wide-ranging corruption charges. He was cleared of embezzling state special funds (prosecutors lost that in court and then again twice on appeal) and so far has been convicted only of accepting bribes from the Koo clan -- a longtime KMT-connected family -- and in the Diana Chen case. Wouldn't it have been great if we lived in the alternate universe where AP reported that Chen had already been found innocent of the charges Lee is under indictment for? Instead we get served the formula "Ma the tension reducer and Chen the China provoker." Sad.
Note that the AP report does not locate the Lee indictment in the larger context of several other suspicious indictments of major opposition figures, actions that provoked international protest -- wouldn't it have been better to put that there instead of tired formulas about Ma and Chen? -- nor did it point out that the indictment comes as election looms -- the political context is entirely lacking.
Thanks for leaving out all that stuff, AP. When you do that, you force people to go read blogs to find out what's really going on.
ADDED: Some good comments below
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