Ma and former President Chen cleared of charges: Investigators

Ma and former President Chen cleared of charges: Investigators
PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI - Both incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou and former President Chen Shui-bian were cleared of receiving illicit political donations yesterday by the Special Investigation Division (SID), which cited insufficient evidence to press charges.

The SID of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office said that Ma had only accepted a total of NT$7 million (S$304,100) legal donations from L&K Group Chairman Kenneth Yao and then-First International Telecom Corp. President Charlie Wu .

Yao had made the contributions under the company's and his own name, which was related to the merging of L&K and RSEA Engineering Corp.

The SID stressed Ma had not received any donations from Ting Hsin International Group. Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen expressed his gratification of the president's innocence in response to the news.

Ma had been under the SID's investigation and scrutiny after radio host Clara Chou accused him of accepting off-the-books political donations totaling NT$200 million (US$6.49 million) from Ting Hsin during his re-election campaign in 2012.

Chou then had also referred to Formosa Electronic News Vice President Wu Tsu-chia's claims that Ma had received political contributions of NT$1 billion in the same campaign, also from Ting Hsin.

From what was revealed through the SID's investigations, the four Wei brothers of Ting Hsin, their wives and children had withdrawn a total of NT$72.5 million from 31 individual bank accounts from June 2011 to Jan. 14, 2012 prior to the 13th presidential election.

The SID said that the amount of withdrawn money was a far cry from the alleged NT$1 billion and NT$200 million. SID officials also pointed out the money "had nothing to do with political contributions" either.

In the Wei brother's foreign exchange transaction records, an item of NT$20,000 was also found unrelated to political donations. Wu could not provide sustainable evidence to back up his claims, prosecutors said.

The transaction records from June 2011 to Jan. 14, 2012 for Ma and other family members, as well as his subordinate Kang Bing-cheng's third-degree relatives, were no where near the claimed NT$1 billion and NT$200 million.

Lawmakers and Others' Claims Unfounded

Separate allegations made by political commentators Chen Min-feng and Chang Yu-hua , Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang and former lawmaker Liu Wen-hsiung that Ma had accepted illegal donations of NT$200 million in 2007 from at least 12 telecommunications and electronics tycoons were proven unfounded.

During the two gatherings Ma conducted with the tycoons, the SID found that there were no mentions of "political donations." The donations that were found connected with the tycoons were all made legally or prior to the implementation of the Political Donations Act.

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