Saturday, August 30, 2008

Intelligence Bureau Chief Arrested: Rickards in WaPo

Jane Rickards has another "special to the Washington Post" piece in WaPo on the arrest of Taiwan's former security chief in the Chen "money laundering" case. Rickards writes:

Prosecutors are seeking 2 1/2 years' imprisonment for Yeh Sheng-mao, chief of the Bureau of Investigation under Chen, for allegedly concealing documents given to his bureau by the Egmont Group, an international organization that collects data on suspicious financial activity. The Egmont documents expressed suspicion that the money wired into a Swiss bank account belonging to the daughter-in-law involved money laundering.

That the judiciary is willing to go after senior politicians such as Yeh was seen by some foreign observers as another sign of the strengthening democratization of Taiwan's political system.

Subordinates at Yeh's bureau, which deals with white-collar crime and internal security, notified Yeh when they received the Egmont documents in January and recommended that the bureau take legal action, the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

But Yeh reportedly told them the matter was so confidential and sensitive that only he was equipped to deal with it. He then concealed the documents, quashing any possible investigation, the statement said. Yeh retired at the end of Chen's second four-year term as Taiwan's president in May.

Prosecutors claim that Yeh concealed the documents. Interesting -- because this they (and this report) leave out a key fact reported by the Taipei Times on the 29th: in March the prosecutors office asked for this information. In other words, they already knew he had it. Thus, they ask for it in March, don't ask again, and wait until August to prosecute him for not giving them the information. This stinks of a set-up (and why is it illegal for Yeh to ignore it from March to May but legal for prosecutors to do so over the same period?).

Rickards cites the ponderous observations that many outsiders are making: this will be good for Taiwan's democracy if someone high-ranking is prosecuted. Please! The prosecutions of high-ranking figures are only occurring to Green politicians from the pro-democracy party. If Chen and Yeh were Nationalists, these prosecutions would not be happening.

The KMT is most fortunate in the timing, as the case has been known about since January when Egmont reported it to the Taiwan authorities -- meaning that the people under Yeh knew (as Rickards reports), meaning that politicians in both parties probably knew. Yet the case breaks right as Ma is in the midst of the worst performance of the economy in years, when China has categorically refused to yield an inch on UN participation in any form, when his plan to "save Taiwan" by flooding it with Chinese tourists has yet to bear fruit, and when his government, instead of revealing competence, has been floundering. Instead of serious coverage of the state of the nation, the media is full of spurious coverage of the Chen case. Lucky, eh?

The Taipei Times also reported today that Douglas Hsu was acquitted in the Sogo case. This was another case in which the Chens had been accused of selling influence, and found not guilty by the largely Blue Taiwan Court system. The article observes at its end:

The court also said that while Hsu and other businessmen had visited former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) during the battle for ownership of Sogo, she did not help any party in the battle for control.

Prosecutors believed that Lee had distributed NT$14.82 million [US$447,320] in Pacific Sogo Department Store vouchers, with the first family indirectly receiving NT$277,000 in vouchers.

Prosecutors found no evidence, however, that Wu had received the vouchers in return for helping secure ownership of the department store.

Prosecutors said Wu had received her vouchers from the first family’s former doctor, Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥).

However, the Special Investigation Panel of the Supreme Prosecutor Office’s is investigating whether Far Eastern deposited US$11.5 million into an overseas account held by former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) family in exchange for help securing ownership of Pacific Sogo.

Hsu said on Wednesday that the company had not bribed the Chen family to gain control of a Chinese subsidiary of Pacific Sogo.

What? "Prosecutors found no evidence, however, that Wu had received the vouchers in return for helping secure ownership of the department store."


Anonymous said...

I think it's curious why Chen decided to confess to the transfer of $$ to Switzerland.

Perhaps he simply knew he was in the judicial crosshairs and gave himself up, rather than face a protracted and humilitating denial process.

But such agreeable cooperation among so many foreign agencies and countries to expose the alleged money-laundering in the absence of doing the same process for those in the KMT strikes me as singularly odd.

I'm hearing from some that Chen fell on his sword to protect something or some people -- not from wrongdoing--but something else.

Has anyone heard anything?

Anonymous said...

Hello there, I've just discovered your blog from
today. Can't believe I didn't come across your blog sooner. I had just recently began to write one myself, and trying to keep up with two languages since my younger sisters and other American friends can't read Chinese. I'm beyond impressed after reading just one article here, and will read all of them soon.

Wondering if you're among the crowds at the protest today, God only know how much I wish to be there.

BTW I'm Wendy, a new attorney in California. Thank you so much for writing about Taiwan. Jia-yo!!

Michael Turton said...

Thanks wendy! Looking forward to your comments!

Marc, I think Chen decided to confess because he was cornered, no choice. Evidence was there. And he admitted to wrongdoing too. Hopefully that will be the last of it. I was greatly cheered to note that Doug Hsu got off, and I hope to see more outcomes like that.