Post dust explosion, New Taipei to investigate corruption allegations

Post dust explosion, New Taipei to investigate corruption allegations
Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Kuomintang Party (KMT) chairman Eric Chu gives a speech at a party congress in Taipei, Taiwan, July 19, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI - New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu yesterday vowed to investigate bribe taking allegations after reports by local media implicated city officials involved in ensuring safety precautions at the Formosa Fun Park.

In reporting by local magazine Next Magazine, New Taipei officials have been accused of taking bribes from the park officials in the form of admissions tickets.

According to the report, seven city officials arrived at the Formosa Fun Park on June 18, nine days before the blast in which they pocketed a stack of tickets from park officials.

The magazine claims that this exchange prevented proper safety checks from being completed. The total value of tickets given to the seven city officials may have amounted to NT$20,000 (S$869), according to Next.

Event and park organizers are being investigated for their role behind the dust explosion incident last month which has claimed nine lives and injured more than 500 in New Taipei's Bali District.

Mayor Chu indicated yesterday morning that investigations would get to the bottom of the allegations and that information was being sent to the city's ethics and investigative agencies.

He said that the city would not allow any government agency, business or individual to stand in the way of the goal of placing legal responsibility on those involved in the explosion.

The spokesperson of the Shilin District Prosecutors Office stated that it would proactively investigate the claims of the magazine, and that information provided by the publication and other sources would be sent to a special investigative taskforce.

The city government also detailed financial assistance plans for victims injured in the blast. Each victim will receive NT$32,000 this month to defray living expenses and costs incurred by family members due to caring for those affected.

A total of NT$14.46 million will be allocated to the 452 victims who are not receiving paid leave while receiving medical treatment.

Ex-Deputy Mayor Accused of Corruption

Meanwhile, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office yesterday ordered the Agency Against Corruption (AAC) to begin investigating corruption allegations against former New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hsu Chih-chien.

Hsu is accused of taking kickbacks from corporations involved in the city's urban renewal projects in exchange for favourable scores during panel reviews of construction bids.

In addition to Hsu, the prosecutors office has ordered investigations of ten others linked to the case.

The 64-year old Hsu resigned from his position last year after Chu was reelected as New Taipei mayor, citing health reasons.

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