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Ex-Cabinet official willing to confront his accuser

2012/06/29 20:53:12

Taipei, June 29 (CNA) Former Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih said Friday he is more than willing to confront his accuser at the prosecutors office to clarify bribery accusations against him.

Lin, who resigned from his post earlier Friday after being accused of having taken bribes from a businessman, also urged opposition lawmakers to hand over what they say is a tape with revealing conversations between him and his accuser to prosecutors.

In a statement issued after Premier Sean Chen accepted his resignation, Lin described the bribery allegations against him as "political assassination" aimed at destroying his career.

Reiterating his innocence, Lin said he tendered his resignation mainly to signify his determination to defend his reputation through judicial investigations and proceedings.

The Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office began investigating the case since Next Magazine reported in its latest issue published Wednesday that Lin was accused by Chen Chi-hsiang -- the owner of Kaohsiung-based Ti Yung Co. -- of having taken bribes from him.

According to the tabloid, Lin received a bribe of NT$63 million (US$2.1 million) from Chen to help his company secure a slag treatment contract from Taiwan-based China Steel Corp. (CSC) two years ago when Lin was a legislator of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT).

He demanded another NT$83 million from Chen between February and March this year, according to the magazine. When Chen refused to pay up, Lin pressured China Steel to stop supplying slag to Ti Yung for treatment, the magazine alleged.

Lin has since repeatedly denied the accusations, saying he "absolutely did not take any bribe" and "did not pressure anyone after failing to get a bribe."

On Thursday, he filed an aggravated libel suit against Chen, Next Magazine's editor-in-chief Pei Wei and two others over the bribery allegations against him.

Premier Chen told reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony marking Tax Day Friday that he spoke with Lin late last night, during which Lin decided to resign.

"During our conversation, Lin denied he had taken bribes from anyone, but he offered to resign to avoid disturbing Cabinet operations and to focus on dealing with follow-up judicial proceedings," the premier said, adding that he respected Lin's decision to step down.

Shortly afterwards, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chao Tien-lin said that a self-proclaimed friend of Lin's accuser had him listen to a recording Thursday night that was related to the amount of the bribe Lin demanded and payment methods.

Chao further said Lin's accuser dared not come forward due to concerns about his personal safety.

The lawmaker did not, however, release the tape recording. Another DPP lawmaker, Lee Chun-yi, produced a so-called profile of the tape, including noting that it was 8 minutes long.

In response, Lin said in a statement that Chen should contact law enforcement authorities and seek their protection instead of appealing to a DPP lawmaker.

If Chen indeed intended to expose irregularities, he should have presented all the evidence in his hands to the SID rather than going into hiding and making one-sided accusations through the DPP, Lin said in the statement.

The 44-year-old Lin, a four-term lawmaker who lost his bid for re-election in January, said he has tried many times through his lawyer to get in contact with the SID to clarify the case, but such attempts have so far been unsuccessful.

But the SID said that under the Code of Criminal Procedure, it is obligated to question the witness first before deciding whether, when and how to summon the accused for questioning.

It said that it has subpoenaed Chen to testify as a witness, but Chen has yet to respond, and the possibility of asking the judge to issue a warrant to arrest Chen for questioning if he continues to remain in hiding has not been ruled out.

Meanwhile, Cabinet spokesman Hu Yu-wei said Cabinet Deputy Secretary-General Steven Chen will serve as acting secretary-general for the time being.

(By Liu Shih-yi, chen Chao-fu, Liu Chia-tai, Sheery Tang and Sofia Wu)