Saturday, September 06, 2008

Papua New Guinea fraud suspect kept in detention
By Jimmy Chuang

Wu Shih-tsai, a key suspect in the Papua New Guinea diplomatic fraud scandal, is being kept in custody because prosecutors fear he could attempt to escape during the ongoing investigation into the case, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.
Wu and his partner Ching Chi-ju, who were commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in 2006 to help broker a deal for the establishment of diplomatic ties with Papua New Guinea, allegedly embezzled the US$29.8 million intended as aid for the Pacific country.
While Ching remains on the run, Wu, taken into custody by prosecutors in May, was indicted on Friday on charges of forgery and defamation.
"This case concerned a lot of money, which was wired to foreign bank accounts. We have not finished our investigation or determined where the money is,” Chief Prosecutor Huang Mo-hsin said.
Prosecutors said they were investigating whether any government officials, including former vice premier Chiou I-jen and former minister of foreign affairs James Huang, were involved in the case.
On May 6, Huang filed a detention request against Wu on charges of corruption, which was granted by the district court.
Wu should have been released last Friday, when the detention period expired, but prosecutors requested an extension on other charges.
“The forgery, and Wu’s lying to the police, made for a solid case for us to keep him,” Huang said. Wu at one point defended his actions to police by saying he had been threatened at gunpoint.