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Yunlin County Council speaker held incommunicado in bribery case

03/16/2023 10:30 PM
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Yunlin County Council Speaker Shen Tsung-lung (front) is pictured at the local district court on Wednesday. CNA photo March 16, 2023
Yunlin County Council Speaker Shen Tsung-lung (front) is pictured at the local district court on Wednesday. CNA photo March 16, 2023

Taipei, March 16 (CNA) Yunlin County Council Speaker Shen Tsung-lung (沈宗隆) was again detained and is being held incommunicado, in connection with a bribery case linked to wind power company wpd Taiwan Energy Co., prosecutors said Thursday.

Shen had been detained last week and was released March 10 on bail of NT$2 million (US$64,766), based on a Yunlin District Court ruling, but prosecutors appealed the decision with the Taiwan High Court Tainan Branch, which subsequently ordered the lower court to review its bail ruling.

Pending the district court's review on Thursday, Shen was again held overnight for eight hours, along with subcontractor Chung Ching-lang (鍾慶郎).

The new evidence submitted to the court indicated that Shen and Chung, who are heavily implicated in the case, are likely collude and should be detained, Yunlin District Court President Judge Wang Tzu-jung (王子榮) said.

Wang said conflicting statements had been given by several witnesses and alleged accomplices in the case.

On March 8, after questioning 27 people, prosecutors filed motions with the Yunlin District Court to detain six of them, including Shen, over their alleged involvement in the case, citing the likelihood of collusion and evidence tampering.

Of the six, the district court approved only the detention of a former wpd CEO, surnamed Pan (潘).

On March 10, Shen was released on bail of NT$2 million, while county councilor Wang You-min (王又民) and the subcontractor Chung were released on bail of NT$500,000 and NT$1 million, respectively. Pan's wife, surnamed Yu (游), was released on NT$60,000 bail, while Yu's sister was released without bail.

In the court order, all five people released on bail were prohibited from changing their residence or leaving the country.

The scandal came to light after a tip-off that led Yunlin prosecutors to launch a lengthy investigation, during which they found that wpd had offered over NT$26 million -- including bribes that were integrated into construction fees -- to Shen and several of his colleagues through sub-contractors and other middlemen.

The bribes were made to help the company obtain licenses to start construction of wind power facilities in Yunlin in 2020 as scheduled, the Yunlin District Prosecutors office said.

The councilors allegedly involved in the case were also accused of pressuring other local government officials to amend regulations to allow wpd to secure permission to officially begin work on the project.

On Thursday, Shen's lawyers said they will appeal the detention ruling in the high court.

(By Flor Wang and Y. C. Chiang)


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