Taiwan ex-leader quits party over alleged money laundering scandal

Other News Materials 15 August 2008 15:32 (UTC +04:00)

Taiwan's former president Chen Shui-bian Friday quit the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as investigators were looking into alleged money laundering activities implicating him and his family, dpa reported.

"I have committed a serious mistake and I don't fancy for forgiveness from the public, but I absolutely take responsibility for my own behaviour," he said in a statement in announcing his withdrawal from the party.

Chen's statement was released a day after he admitted that he broke the law by failing to fully declare his previous campaign funds in yet another scandal. He is also accused of embezzling state funds.

Under Taiwan's Sunshine Law, all senior officials must declare their assets, including campaign donation funds.

Chen, who stepped down as president in May, said although he is no longer a DPP member after the withdrawal, he is willing to cooperate with any probe by the disciplinary committee of the DPP.

The fresh scandal broke Thursday when a parliamentarian revealed a letter from Swiss judicial authorities seeking assistance from Taiwan about 30 million US dollars transferred by Chen's son and daughter-in-law.

The Swiss authorities also said in the letter they had already frozen the accounts of the two set up by a Swiss bank in the Cayman Islands.

The allegation prompted Chen to hastily call a news conference Thursday evening where he said his wife, Wu Shu-chen, had remitted the money abroad without his knowledge.

Chen claimed the funds were leftover from previous campaigns and were not state funds.

Taiwan's foreign ministry and justice ministry both confirmed the letter, saying they were investigating the case.

Taiwan's prosecutors Friday said they would summon Chen's son and daughter-in-law for questioning, however, the couple left Taiwan on August 9.

On Thursday, Chen failed to reveal the exact amount and where the funds had gone, but stressed he decided to allocate the funds "for foreign affairs and public spending uses" when he learned of the transfer.

Chen is also allegedly involved in a high-profile embezzlement scandal, for which his wife is being tried on charges of using receipts provided by others to account for 14.8 million Taiwan dollars (480,000 US dollars) in state funds.