AAC investigates Taipower for corruption

By Camaron Kao ,The China Post

The Agency Against Corruption (AAC, 廉政署) yesterday launched investigations into the Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower, 台灣電力公司), questioning five people including Nuclear Engineering Department Deputy Director Lin Chun-lung (林俊隆) as part of a corruption probe concerning the Forth Nuclear Power Plant.

The agency dispatched 40 officials to five locations, including the Taipower Building, construction sites, and the offices of two subcontractors. The action was part of an investigation into the firm’s 2007 procurement of wires and equipment totaling NT$450 million (US$15 million). Officials are reviewing whether the price was above market value, why subcontractors were able to sell the equipment without radiation protection, and why Taipower didn’t conduct regular examinations on the wires and equipment after the procurement was completed. Lin was responsible the quality of purchases and should have held arbitration meetings if subcontractors provided problematic materials or parts, but he instead allegedly received bribes from contractors to give them passes on equipment examinations. Taipower also yesterday held a ceremony to welcome its new Chairman Huang Jung-chiou (黃重球). Huang said that as he just recently accepted the position, he was not aware of the details of the procurement scandal, and that he would leave it to the judicial department to investigate. The new chairman urged Taipower employees to obey the law and promised in turn to protect them.

New Chairman Focuses on Power Repurchasing Contracts Huang told the media yesterday that as a new chairman he will focus on reviewing power repurchasing contracts with independent power plants (IPPs) and combined heat and power (CHP) plants. Taipower previously signed 25-year contracts with IPPs, but the situation has changed, Huang said. Since the company is suffering great losses, the company will talk to IPPs to revise these contracts. As for contracts with CHP plants, the chairman said he will try to set new prices for electricity repurchasing. Currently, CHP plants consume energy during off-peak hours and sell electricity to Taipower during peak hours, profiting from the price difference between the two. Huang further stated that the implementation of the next 20-percent power rate increase, the final part of a three-stage plan, will be based on the change of global fuel prices and the result of organization reform. Taipower suffered losses of NT$117.9 billion (US$3.93 billion) in 2011. From January to April the firm suffered losses of NT$3.21 billion (US$107 million). With deferred payments totaling NT$10 billion (US$333 million) and the losses in May, the total losses would exceed half of the company’s capital. Huang said he will report this to the board of directors and bring the issue to the meeting of shareholders in June as stipulated by corporate law.

More Cases Under Investigation: Prosecutor-General Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) said that more cases related to Taipower and CPC Corp. (台灣中油) are currently under investigation by local prosecutors offices and the AAC. According to Huang Shih-ming, the number of cases under investigation is a “single digit” and they have not been submitted by the judicial department. Huang stated that since Taipower and CPC employees are not government officials, according to the law, the amount of money involved needs to be large and high-level managers involved for the Supreme Prosecutors Office to be in charge of the case.