Taiwan ex-president's son pleads guilty in graft case

The former president denies wrongdoing, calling the case against him a political plot.

Taiwan ex-president's son pleads guilty in graft case
The son and daughter-in-law of former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian pleaded guilty to money laundering on Wednesday in a case tied up with Chen's own corruption trial, the Central News Agency said.

Chen was charged last month with graft, money laundering and misuse of public funds following a probe that embroiled his son, Chen Chih-chung, his son's wife and numerous former aides.

"Chen Chih-chung and his wife, Huang Jui-ching, acted as the proxy and a nominal holder, respectively, of the former first family's controversial overseas bank accounts," the news agency said.

The former president denies wrongdoing, calling the case against him a political plot.

Prosecutors charged Chen Shui-bian with embezzling T$104 million ($3 million) from a special presidential office fund, accepting bribes of about $9 million related to a land procurement deal and taking another $2.73 million in kickbacks to help a contractor win its bid for a government project.

The case is likely to affect public opinion of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which backed the former president when he was in office from 2000-2008 and faces tough local elections at the end of the year against the ruling Nationalist Party.

Chen Shui-bian left the DPP in August.

His pursuit of independence for self-ruled Taiwan upset rival China as well as the United States.

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.

Outside the courthouse, Chen Chih-chung publicly apologised.

"I didn't differentiate clearly between laundering money and handling funds," Chen Chih-chung told reporters, standing next to his wife, who choked back tears. "If it could be done all over, we absolutely would not make the same kind of mistake again."

A judge must accept the couple's statement before it counts as a formal plea, a court spokesman said. He declined to estimate a sentence in the case, which is expected to take years to complete.


Reuters
Last Mod: 21 Ocak 2009, 13:56
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