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Prosecutors raid Taipei DORTS in fraud case
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-24 03:59 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Prosecutors raided five locations in the Taipei area Tuesday to search for evidence of malpractice by the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems in a development project, reports said.

Former officials might have forged documents related to the Mehas project near a train depot in Hsintien, New Taipei City, causing losses for Taipei City estimated at NT$10 billion (US$333 million), reports said.

Last year, the Control Yuan came to the conclusion that the Taipei City Government and Radium Life Technology Co., Ltd. underestimated the cost of land and overestimated the cost of construction at their joint project near the Xiaobitan Mass Rapid Transit station. The nation’s top government watchdog impeached former DORTS officials Chang Chi-te and Kao Chia-nung and referred the case for further investigation.

Kao was reportedly one of the people being questioned by investigators Tuesday. An official surnamed Chiang forged numbers in documents received from a private appraisal company before submitting them to official meetings about the project in 2006, reports said. The official was one of an estimated ten individuals summoned for questioning about the case Tuesday, reports said, but Chang was not among them. Offices and homes belonging to Kao and Chang were being searched by investigators, who were not prepared to reveal more details about the case for the time being.

The investigation was focusing on the possibility of forgery and providing illegal benefits to private corporate interests, reports said. The interrogations with suspects and witnesses were expected to last for most of the rest of Tuesday.

The Mehas complex was planned to house more than 2,000 families in 16 towers, but the investigation by the Control Yuan prevented at least 1,600 household from taking possession of their apartments, reports said. A Q Square shopping mall projected for the site has still not opened. Earlier, the complex reportedly dropped a plan for movie theaters because of a lack of size. Radium Life Tech also operates a Q Square mall near Taipei Railway Station.

The company denied any illegal acts involving the project, saying it had not pocketed any illicit profits. The city said it would cooperate with the judiciary and track down any violations.

Earlier this year, the Taipei City Government already came under fire for a scandal related to another development project, the Twin Towers. Taipei Gateway International Development Co., Ltd. was accused of paying off officials and politicians to have its bid for the NT$70 billion (US$2.3 billion) project approved.

In the wake of the scandal, former Taipei City Finance Department Commissioner Chiu Da-chan was charged with breach of trust and prominent Kuomintang city councilor Lai Su-ru with accepting bribes. Four of the top managers at Taipei Gateway were also indicted on fraud and forgery charges. Some of the key company officials were previous DORTS employees.

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