Yunlin magistrate’s office, home raided in graft probe

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

Prosecutors raided both the office and residence of Yunlin County Magistrate Chang Jung-wei yesterday morning to gather evidence for possible graft in the construction of a new incinerator in the county. Chang’s deputy issued a statement denying any wrongdoing. The prosecutors seized a one-meter high safe, Chang’s itineraries from the past five years, and other documents. Investigators said the raid was part of the ongoing probe into the possible scam involving the construction of the incinerator at Linnei Township of Yunlin in southwestern Taiwan to trace the flow of funds. There was a disappearance of funds amounting to between NT$100 million and NT$200 million from the budget earmarked for the project, including the cost for land acquisition. Chang was in Taipei since he took both Thursday and Friday off before the raids took place. In a previous investigation, eight people were detained, including Yen Chia-hsien, chief of the county’s Environmental Protection Department, and two of his staffers, Linnei Township chief Chen Ho-shan, and the executives of contractor Onyx Ta-Ho Environmental Services Co.

Yen was released just a few days ago while Chen reportedly confessed he had received a NT$18 million “brokerage fee” for the project. The expanded investigation is designed to find evidence for possible involvement of county chief Chang or other employees at the Yunlin County Government in collusion with the contractor. In the absence of Magistrate Chang, Deputy county chief Chang Ching-liang held a press conference in the afternoon to emphasize that all bidding and construction operations were carried out with total transparency. He said the procedures also met the criteria set by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) under the Cabinet. Chang expressed confidence that the magistrate and other officials of the county government will be cleared of any suspicion or charges for illegal actions. Please see YUNLIN on page

The plan for building the incinerator with the daily capacity of 600 metric tons of garbage was approved by the EPA in August 1996. The BOO (build-operate-own) format, which allows qualified private contractors to invest, operate and own the facilities, won consent from the EPA in September the following year. Onyx Ta-Ho Environmental Services Co. was awarded the contract in May 2002 after two open tenders. Construction got underway in November 2002 and is now 90 percent completed. The incinerator is scheduled for test operations beginning in mid-October and formal operations in January next year. Chang explained that the EPA had so far approved the applications for building incinerators with the BOO format from Hsinchu, Yunlin, and Taitung counties. The contractor will charge NT$2,555 per metric ton of garbage treated, the lowest price among the three incinerators. In answering reporters’ questions, a county government official said county chief Chang’s absence had nothing to do with the raids. He said Chang was unaware of the raiding operations when he decided to take the past two days off.