Prosecutors’ office to unify views on expense accounts

The China Post staff

The Supreme Prosecutor Office decided yesterday to call a convention of the nation’s top prosecutors to iron out the discrepancies in the indictments of different officials for their use of expense accounts with different criteria. Hsu Yang-ming, husband of lawmaker Kuan Bi-lin and a former deputy mayor of Tainan City in southern Taiwan, was indicted on charges of corruption in connection with the illegal claim of special allowance funds he received during his term as deputy mayor of the southern city from Feb. 15, 2002 to Dec. 20, 2005. Hsu may face a jail term of more than seven years if found guilty in court trial. Meanwhile, Taiwan prosecutors resolve not to indict incumbent Tainan Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair was exonerated by Tainan Prosecutors Office. Legislators of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) blasted prosecutors who indicted the deputy mayor for lack of professionalism and an understanding of the government regulations. But lawmakers of the opposition Kuomintang used the prosecutors’ exoneration of Mayor Hsu to show that prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen in Taipei made a mistake when indicting former Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou for alleged embezzlement of public fund, although Ma handled his special expense allowance according to the government regulations like most other senior officials in the nation.

When exonerating Tainan Mayor Hsu, Tainan Prosecutor Chen Ming-jin explained that his ruling was mainly based on if the person involved had the motive of siphon the money in the expense away for personal use. Chen’s views coincide with those held by Taipei Ma himself. Lawmakers of various parties used the discrepancies in different prosecutors’ judgment to defend the officials of their own parties involved in the expense account cases. While the wife of President Chen Shui-bian and his aides are under trial for misappropriations of the president’s state affair fund, several top officials and political leaders are still being probed for their possible misuses of their special fees, also known as expense account. Those currently being investigated and could be indicted by different prosecutors include Vice President Annette Lu, Premier Su Tseng-chang, former Premier Frank Hsieh, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun, and other former political leaders.

Some lawmakers suggested that the newly appointed Prosecutor-general Chen Tsung-ming hold meetings to iron out the double standards in the application of the regulations to eliminate the controversies. But the proposal was opposed by many others who said that Chen’s credibility was also eclipsed by his wining and dining with controversial figures, including Huang Fang-yen and Chiang Sung-hsi, both implicated in the corruption case against first lady Wu Shu-chen. With many top officials’ political fate at stake, the Supreme Prosecutor Office eventually stepped out and issued a statement yesterday evening to call a conference of top prosecutors to consolidate and unify different views on the issue in order to build a consensus on the application of proper regulations by different prosecutors. The documents of indictments by Taipei and Tainan prosecutors will be carefully studied by the conferees before they exchange views for a unified stand, according to the statement.