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Lin tape reveals possibility of accomplices in corruption scandal

2012/07/03 18:04:45

Taipei, July 3 (CNA) Investigators are looking into the possibility that others may have been involved in a corruption scandal revolving around former Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih, who said before being detained Monday that he acted alone.

In a tape recording in which Lin apparently asks a businessman for a bribe, he says, "there are a number of other lawmakers whom I have to deal with," followed by "but they say they want their cuts," according to a transcript of the tape released by Next Magazine, a local tabloid.

Based on the conversations, prosecutors with the Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office said Tuesday that they now suspect there were others involved in the bribery scandal, but Lin has denied he had any accomplices, they said.

Next Magazine reported last week that Lin, in 2010 while still a legislator, took a bribe of NT$63 million (US$2.1 million) from businessman Chen Chi-hsiang to help Chen's company secure a slag treatment contract from a subsidiary of Taiwan-based China Steel, a publicly listed company controlled by the state.

Lin is also suspected of asking for another bribe from Chen this year for $83 million, a request Chen rejected.

After a 12-hour marathon interrogation late Sunday and early Monday, SID prosecutors found evidence backing the allegations, and they decided to have Lin detained out of fear that the suspect could collude with others to destroy evidence.

Prosecutors in charge of the case said the key evidence that convinced them that the charges could be true were two tapes that recorded Lin's negotiations with Chen for bribes on Feb. 25 and March 10 this year.

Chen handed the tapes over to prosecutors after his company failed to renew its contract to treat China Steel's slag, allegedly because he refused Lin's request for the bribe, prosecutors said.

The SID said that with new revelations that others may be involved, it expected to launch additional raids and interrogations in the next few days.

If convicted on charges of accepting a bribe and demanding a bribe related to his duty, Lin could face up to life imprisonment and a possible fine of up to NT$100 million, according to the Anti-Corruption Act.

Meanwhile, Legislator Wang Chin-shih of the ruling Kuomintang released a statement Tuesday in which he denied any involvement in Lin's case, after being mentioned by name in the Lin tapes.

Wang made contact with China Steel and subsidiary CHC Resources Corp. in between February and March in an attempt to help a small slag treatment factory based in Pingtung County stay alive by gaining access to slag from CHC Resources.

Wang said that when he made the request to China Steel, he was told that deals for the slag had already been made with other companies.

He then informed the company of China Steel's reply and had not been asked since then to help with getting contracts from China Steel and CHC Resources.

"I don't know why Lin Yi-shih talked about me," said the lawmaker, who pledged to cooperate with prosecutors and the police on the case if necessary.

(By Tsai Pei-chih, Lin Chung-sen, Kuo Chu-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)