Control Yuan impeaches envoy to Switzerland over delay in probe

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The government watchdog has impeached Taiwan’s former representative to Switzerland over a delay in handling Swiss authorities’ request for assistance in their investigation into alleged money laundering by ex-President Chen Shui-bian’s family. The Control Yuan determined that the former diplomat Liu Kuan-ping neglected his duties and failed to process the request as quickly as possible. Liu, who has been replaced, was head of Taiwan’s representative office in Switzerland when it received a letter of request from Swiss prosecutors seeking Taipei’s help in a probe of alleged money laundering by Chen’s son, Chih-chung. According to the impeachment, the representative office’s clerk gave Liu the letter the next day.

A senior officer, Kuo Wen-pin, of the office drafted a document on July 11 that would have had the letter sent back to Taipei as soon as possible. The document needed Liu’s approval but he set it aside.

Kuo on July 16 reminded Liu that the document needed to be signed. Lu only signed it but did not indicate that the letter would be promptly mailed back to Taiwan. The letter failed to make the diplomatic mailbag that was going back to Taiwan on July 16. It was finally sent on July 23, but did not reach Taiwan until July 25. The United Daily News cited Control Yuan members as expressing disbelief at how such an experienced diplomat could have been so insensitive to the gravity of the matter in the letter. Liu, who had previously served as a diplomat to the United States and a member of the Legislature, showed carelessness in handling a matter involving the honor of the country’s president, the watchdog said. The United Evening News cited the watchdog’s investigation as showing Liu demonstrated little interest when he was given the letter. “Who is Chen Chih-chung?” Liu was cited as asking when told about the Swiss authorities’ request. It is incredible that Liu did not know it was the president’s son, the paper cited watchdog members as saying. Former Foreign Minister James Huang also expressed surprise while being interviewed by the watchdog over the case, the paper said. Huang deemed the letter an important document that warranted immediate action. Heads of representative offices could have reported back to Taipei immediately using secure telephone lines when handling such sensitive cases, Huang said. Meanwhile, prosecutors, after examining a NT$160 million check — allegedly endorsed by former Vice President Lien Chan — that they had seized from Chen, believed that it was a fake. The check was seized on Sept. 25 during prosecutors’ second raid on the former president’s premises. Soon after the raid, Chen openly claimed that the check was endorsed by Lien. But he did not disclose how he had obtained the check.