Taiwan lawmaker indicted on corruption charges


TAIPEI, Taiwan — A confidant of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian was indicted Monday on graft charges, prosecutors said, dealing another blow to Chen’s corruption-tainted administration.

Lawmaker Gao Jyh-peng of Chen’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party was indicted for allegedly accepting New Taiwan dollars 500,000 (US$15,300; €10,700) to help a company rent state-owned land in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung, the Nantou District Prosecutors’ Office said in a statement.

The office said it would seek nine years imprisonment for Gao.

One of Gao’s aides was arrested for his involvement in the scandal earlier this year.

Gao served as a senior aide to Chen when Chen himself was a lawmaker in the 1990s, and is widely viewed as an unofficial spokesman for the president.

On Monday Gao denied any wrongdoing in connection with the case.

“This case stemmed from my aide’s involvement, and I did not engage in any illegal activities,” he said in a statement. “I am flabbergasted that false charges are being pressed against me.”

The Gao indictment is the latest in a series of legal mishaps to affect Chen’s family and inner circle over the past 24 months.

Chen’s son-in-law was convicted on insider trading charges last year, while first lady Wu Shu-chen and three former Chen aides have been charged with embezzling NT$14.8 million (US$450,000; €330,000) from a special presidential office fund.

The aides are currently on trial, but court hearings against Wu have been suspended pending an improvement in her health.

Also, a former Cabinet official was convicted on corruption charges in September and sentenced to 15 years in prison.