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Former, incumbent Chiayi County chiefs granted bail in bribery case

2012/08/01 14:01:37

Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) Chiayi County Magistrate Chang Hua-kuan and her predecessor, Chen Ming-wen, were released on bail early Wednesday after being questioned overnight by prosecutors on corruption allegations linked to a herbal medicine biotech park project.

Chang was released on NT$3 million (US$100,000) bail, and Chen on NT$1 million bail.

The two are suspected of having taken bribes from a developer during the bidding process for the BOT (build, operate and transfer) project between 2004 and 2006 in exchange for helping the developer win the tender.

Chen was the county chief who promoted the project, while Chang was a lawmaker when the bidding on the park was initiated.

Defending her innocence upon her release, Chang criticized the investigation conducted by the case's prosecutors as "very unfair" and described the search of Chiayi County government offices a day earlier as "unprecedented" and "disorganized."

She said the integrity of her administrative team would withstand scrutiny, as evidenced by the fact that all 25 county government employees summoned by prosecutors were eventually freed.

Chen, meanwhile, said he "has never taken a single penny" in the case and called the incident a "mistake."

A preliminary investigation found that the government and the private sector were each to provide NT$1.5 billion in funding for the project under the BOT model.

The Chiayi County government, however, revoked its contract with the developer in July 2009 after it failed to complete the construction work on time.

In February 2011, the county government decided to change the herbal medicine biotech park project into a precision machinery industry park.

Investigators and prosecutors raided 51 locations and summoned more than 40 people for questioning in an action taken Tuesday.

(By Cheng Chi-fong, Chian Chun-liang and Y.F. Low)