Ex-President Chen refutes Lee whistleblower claims

Former President Chen Shui-bian, who is serving a 17-year prison sentence for corruption, yesterday dismissed claims he was the whistleblower who led to the recent indictment of his predecessor Lee Teng-hui on graft and money laundering charges. Chen was cited by his daughter, Hsing-yu, as saying that he had nothing to do with Lee's indictment and did not want to get involved in the case.

Media reports have claimed that prosecutors opened a probe into Lee's financial dealings during his presidential stint following leads provided by Chen when the latter was being investigated for corruption.

Prosecutors from the Special Investigation Division (SID) Thursday dropped a bombshell by charging Lee and some others over the alleged embezzlement of US$7.79 million in public funds.

The SID is also looking into Lee's alleged involvement in another US$50 million money laundering case, according to the United Evening News.

SID chief Chen Hung-ta confirmed that prosecutors have already asked the Justice Ministry to seek help from the authorities in Singapore in the investigation.

He said when the SID last questioned Lee on May 31, they did not touch on this case.

An overseas travel ban has been imposed on five of Lee's present and former bodyguards in line with the probe, and the SID does not rule out summoning Lee to another interrogation, the paper added.

The report said Chen told prosecutors during a questioning session on Sept. 5, 2008, that Lee was allegedly involved in laundering US$50 million in Singapore.

The newspaper did not say who else was implicated in the case, but said prosecutors already questioned Liu Tai-ying, Lee's former right-hand man handling the ruling Kuomintang's finances, while he was still in prison.

Liu, who was released from prison earlier this year after serving a few years for fraud, was among defendants indicted on Thursday.

Lee was president from 1988 to 2000. He was succeeded by Chen.