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Ex-president's acquittal overturned, nine found guilty

ROC Central News Agency

2011/10/13 21:19:00

Taipei, Oct. 13 (CNA) The High Court overturned Thursday last year's acquittals of former President Chen Shui-bien, his wife Wu Shu-jen and seven other people over a string of bribery and money laundering charges.

The high court sentenced Chen to 18 years and Wu to 11 years in prison, along with fines of NT$180 million (US$5.95 million) and NT$102 million, respectively, for their parts in bribe-taking over a series of bank mergers during Chen's tenure as president between 2000 and 2008.

The couple was also ordered to repay their illegally obtained money NT$500 million to the national coffers.

In the same ruling, the court gave their son, Chen Chih-chung, a sentence of one year in prison and his wife Huang Jui-ching six months, plus fines of NT$4 million and NT$2 million, respectively, for their parts in helping hide and transport the money.

Five other people, including Ma Yung-cheng, a former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general, were also found guilty. Ma faces eight years in prison.

The former first couple's daughter, Chen Hsin-yu, was found not guilty.

Thursday's ruling overturned a November 2010 ruling by the Taipei District Court that acquitted the ex-president and former first lady of all the charges, based on a lack of evidence that they had asked for money from financial holding companies to help facilitate mergers.

According to the district court's interpretation, although the prosecutors accused Chen of accepting bribes while acting as president, financial company mergers do not fall under the scope of the president's responsibility, which begged the question of why Chen would even have been approached to intervene.

The district court also acquitted Chen Chih-chung, his wife Huang Jui-ching, Chen Hsin-yu, and a dozen other people charged by the Supreme Court's Special Investigation Division (SID) in December 2009 for bribery and money laundering.

The SID charged the former first couple with taking bribes totaling NT$610 million from Cathay Financial Holding Co. and Yuanta Financial Holdings during the country's push to consolidate the banking sector.

In that indictment, Chen and Wu were accused of receiving NT$400 million from Cathay Financial Holding Co. in exchange for facilitating a merger between Cathay Financial and World Chinese Commercial Bank.

The former first couple was also accused of taking NT$210 million from Yuanta Financial Holdings to facilitate a merger of that company and Fu-Hwa Financial Holding Co. (By Yoga Lai, Sherry Tang and Deborah Kuo) ENDITEM/J

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