Yilan County Commissioner Lin Zi-miao (林姿妙) yesterday complained of political persecution, while critics urged her to come clean on allegations of illegal financial dealings.
New revelations came to light in a corruption investigation into Lin and several Yilan County officials. Investigators have tracked down about NT$100 million (US$3.43 million) in money transfers to Lin and members of her family over the past two decades from former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Yang Chi-hsiung (楊吉雄).
Investigators alleged that the money have gone to Lin’s two bank accounts, but she did not declare the money as assets, as required by law for elected government officials, a report yesterday by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) said.
Yilan prosecutors launched the corruption probe in January, conducting raids and gathering evidence. During questioning, Yang denied any improper dealings, saying the money transfers were loans to Lin and did not break any law.
The “loans” involved more than 100 money transfers over 20 years for a total of NT$100 million.
Prosecutors alleged that these were bribes or illegal political contributions for Yang and his business associates to buy political influence or secure public contracts, reaping kickbacks or other financial benefits, as Lin was elected Yilan County commissioner in 2018, placing her in charge of the county’s finance and budget, and overseeing many construction projects.
Before serving as commissioner, Lin, representing the KMT, had served as Luodong Township (羅東) mayor and Yilan County councilor.
Prosecutors said there were many questionable aspects to the money flow, and might have involved dealings in properties and other assets, as Yang and Lin are the heads of two leading political families with large business holdings.
The investigation has so far uncovered complicated financial dealings and an overlap in the commercial interests of the Yang and Lin families, including Yang serving as a partner and board member of Yi Hsing Mining Co, which is owned by Lin’s daughter.
Yilan residents have filed complaints against the company for forced land appropriation, illegal quarrying and logging on protected forests, resulting in flash flooding and property damage to downstream areas.
Lin denied at a news briefing yesterday that she had received NT$100 million from Yang, calling the allegation political persecution.
Yilan prosecutors in a news release said the case is under investigation and the public should refrain from speculation.
Prosecutors working with the Agency Against Corruption said that Lin and more than 30 government officials and contractors had been summoned for questioning, and that they might be charged with corruption, bribery, money laundering, and other offenses relating to forgery, bid rigging, possessing personal assets of unknown origin and financial irregularities relating to public projects.
One of the projects is the NT$5 billion, 105-hectare economic renewal project in Luodong, with land appropriation and rezoning by the county government suspected of illegally profiting land owners and government officials.
Yang is reportedly also a partner at Luodong-based Po Kang Co, a Lin family-owned business that offers job training and education programs, as well as other technology companies that have profited from public projects tendered by the Yilan County Government.
Chiang Tsung-yuan (江聰淵), a member of the Yilan chapter of the Democratic Progressive Party, said that NT$100 million is a large sum of money, so Lin must tell the public where it came from and what it had been spent on.
The public would like to know if the money had been spent for personal use, campaign expenditure, or to accrue more political and business benefits, Chiang said.
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