Chen Shui-bian, Mister A and Mister B

Here is the brief summary from Associated Press:

[President Chen Shui-bian] is implicated in case of abuse of secret diplomatic funds; the First Lady Wu Shu-chen and three former presidential aides are indicted for embezzlement, forging documents and perjury.

President Chen Shui-bian will be offering his explanation to the people of Taiwan soon.  To understand what he will be saying, it is important to see what his role was according to the prosecutor.  The following are three articles in United Daily News.  The articles are overlapping, but each illuminates different aspects of the case.  These aspects only cover part of the case against President Chen Shui-bian.  This part of the case involves certain physical evidence that cannot be contested and it is therefore the most deadly piece.

Using PowerPoint bullet points, here are is the brief summary:

(United Daily News)  

[in translation]

Former President's Office deputy secretary-general Ma Yong-cheng and current President's Office secretary Lin Te-hsun were indicted for forging documents.  The reason was that they were aware that President Chen Shui-bian was using fake receipts to seek reimbursement from the state secret fund but nevertheless they signed their approvals and they applied the official chop of "President's Office" as recepient on the invoices from President's Office Manager Chen Cheng-hwei.

When the investigation first began, Ma Yong-cheng, Lin Te-hsun and Chen Cheng-hwei conspired to mislead the prosecutor Eric Chen to think that there really was a "Mister A" who was conducting secret diplomacy overseas and who was receiving money from the state secret fund.  During the investigation, Eric Chen saw through their lies.

Concerning the perjury charge, Ma Yong-cheng was summoned as a defendant for interrogation.  As defendants are entitled to lie during interrogation, he cannot be charged with perjury.  But Lin Te-hsun and Chen Cheng-hwei were summoned as witnesses and made false statements, and so they were indicted for perjury.  Since both of them have admitted to their crimes and expressed their regret, the prosecutor will request the court to suspend their sentences.

The indictment document also pointed out that the First Lady Wu Shu-chen took more than NT$11,950,000 in receipts from the SOGO department store, Taipei 101 and Breeze Center and gave them to President Chen Shui-bian so that he can get reimbusement from the state secret funds.  From 2000 to 2005, President's Office secretaries Ma Yong-cheng and Lin Te-hsun abused the authority and opportunities of their respective positions.  They stated that the receipts were for "gifts" and "entertainment" used for secret diplomatic missions, even though they knew that this was untrue.

Not only did Ma Yong-cheng and Lin Te-hsun stamped the receipts and signed their approval, they made President's Office Treasurer Chen Cheng-hwei (who was not aware of the ulterior purpose) the recepient of the payments of those invoices.  When Chen Cheng-hwei submitted her requests to the President's Office Accounting Department, the people there believed that these invoices were gifts and miscellaneous expenses for the secret diplomatic missions and therefore made the payments.

During the investigation, the prosecutor interrogated Ma Yong-cheng, Lin Te-hsun and Chen Cheng-hwei many times.  But the three of them conspired with former President's Office bureau chief Tseng Tien-tsu to fabricate evidence.

In order to reduce the amount of money that came from the receipts provided by Wu Shu-chen, they claimed during the investigation that receipts for NT$9 million had been provided by Tseng Tien-tsu.  Of these, receipts for NT$6 million came from a Mister A who was conducting secret diplomatic missions, and another NT$3.2 million were used for another secret mission at the order of President Chen.

(United Daily News

The currents ebbed and flowed in this case as it was a battle of wits between the President's Office and the Prosecutor's Office.  The whole case was broken in four days' time, and the results of the showdown had the President and his wife on the losing side.

On the evening of October 27, prosecutor Eric Chen interviewed President Chen for the second time.  Four days later, Tseng Tien-tsu, Lee Bi-chun and others admitted that they committed perjury about the lie about the Mister A that Chen Shui-bian said was receiving state secret funds for conducting secret diplomatic work.  In truth, October 31 was the day when the prosecutor summoned Tseng Tien-tsu and others for the showdown.  At that moment, Eric Chen was very confident because he had two important pieces of evidence, and he was only waiting to see how Tseng Tien-tsu and others were going to rationalize and explain themselves.

The first piece of evidence: The so-called Mister A declined to return to Taiwan to testify in spite of six summons.  Finally, on October 28, he faxed a letter to his wife from overseas, with the content emphasizing that "I and my wife have never received any state secret funds for any South Route Project or collecting intelligence on mainland China."  Mister A asked his wife to take the letter to the prosecutor on October 30 while attesting to the authenticity.

The second piece of evidence: According to Tseng Tien-hsu and Lee Bi-chun, Mister A sent in receipts on more than ten occasions between mid-December 2003 through April 2005 in order to claim state secret fund.  But the prosecutor checked the entry/exit records of Mister A over that period of time, and found out on all the dates when the President's Office said that state secret funds were requested, Mister A was not inside Taiwan.  Thus, the claim by the President's Office that Mister A personally turned in the receipts on those days and personally accepted the state secret fees was shown to false.

On October 31, prosecutor Eric Chen first summoned Tseng Tien-tsu and showed him the investigative conclusion that Mister A could not have turned in the receipts on those dates because he was out of Taiwan.  Then he informed Tseng of his changed status from a witness to a suspect for perjury.

Faced with the ironclad evidence, Tseng Tien-tsu was at a loss for words.  He had to overturn his previous instances of perjury.  He confessed that at the suggestion of Mister A, he let Mister A sign three false vouchers which were turned over to President's Office secretary Lin Te-hsun.  Thus, Tseng took the responsiblity for dispensing NT$9 million, which he falsely claimed to have dispensed NT$6 million to Mister A and another NT$3.2 million to Ma Yong-cheng.

After the the breakthrough with Tseng Tien-tsu, Lee Bi-chun also broke down and admitted having committed perjury.  She now admitted that the receipts that she collected from her friends and relatives had been turned over to First Lady Wu Shu-chen, and not the President's Office as previously claimed.

After Tseng Tien-tsu and Lee Bi-chun confessed, Lin Te-hsun and Chen Cheng-hwei also broke down and confessed to perjury.  All have signed confessions.

In order cover up the fact that the state secret funds were being embezzled by the First Family using receipts provided by others, the lie about the "Southern Route Intelligence Project" and "fees for gathering intelligence on mainland China" was made up.  At this point, the prosecutor Eric Chen has determined that this was "purely ficitonal."

(United Daily

After the story about the embezzlement of state secret fund came out, the President's Office did everything it could to quell the doubts about the First Family using receipts from other people to embezzle money from the state secret fund.  First, there was the story about paying Mister A for performing secret diplomatic work.  It was claimed that revealing the identity of Mister A may "cause people to die."  But this story was poked through by prosecutor Eric Chen as being "purely fictional."

Yesterday, prosecutor Eric Chen disclosed that in the final hours, the President's Office attempted one last desperate attempt to come up with a Mister B.  They conspired with President Chen Shui-bian's good friend  Wu Wen-ching so that he played the role of Mister B who received some of the money for intelligence gathering.  But the four key persons including Tseng Tien-tsu and others had all confessed on October 31 when they saw that the prosecutor Eric Chen had concrete evidence of their perjury.

When Mister B was summoned to the Supreme Prosecutor's Bureau's Black Gold Center, he realized that he was in a bad situation.  So he immediately told how he had been recruited to act as the "dummy."  That was how the case broke open.  Even Eric Chen had to sigh: "October 31 was truly a melodramatic day with many twists and turns."

When President Chen Shui-bian was first interviewed by Eric Chen on August 7, he said that he was running a "secret diplomatic mission" between 2003 and 2005 and he had former President's Office bureau chief Tseng Tien-tsu paid NT$5 to 6 million from the state secret fund to the worker.  On that day, Chen Shui-bian brought up that this worker was a secret diplomat known only as Mister A.  He also told Eric Chen sternly: "I cannot disclose the identity of the worker who was entrusted with this mission, because he owns a big business.  I am concerned that this may affect his business."

Later on in the state secret fund investigation, Tseng Tien-tsu, Lee Bi-chun, Lin Te-hsun and Chen Cheng-hwei all worked under the framework of President Chen's Mister A and conspired together to concoct stories about where the various receipts came from and where the various payments went to.

Tseng Tien-tsu told the prosecutor many times that he had personally submitted more than NT$9 million in receipts (which came from Lee Bi-chun and her cousin Lee Ligi) to Chen Cheng-hwei for reimbursement from the state secret fund.  Tseng claimed that these receipts were turned in to him personally by Mister A at various restaurants in Taipei.  There were three payments totalling NT$6 million which were handed over by Tseng to Mister A in person on three occasions in front of a certain girls' school in Taipei.  The remaining NT$3.2 million was handed over to Ma Yong-cheng for another secret diplomatic mission.

Lee Bi-chun also testified that her receipts were handed over directly to Mister A, and not to the First Lady Wu Shu-chen.  Chen Cheng-hwei testified that Tseng Tien-tsu turned in the receipts to seek reimbursement from the state secret fund.

In order to make the story even more believable, on the second inteview with prosecutor Eric Chen on the evening of October 27, President Chen Shui-bian changed his mind about protecting the identity of Mister A and wrote down the real name of Mister A on a piece of paper.  This name was the same one described by Tseng Tien-tsu and Lee Bi-chun.

So all three individuals made similar testimonies which were consistent with each other.  If the prosecutor had not followed through relentlessly, this might have passed.

Prosecutor Eric Chen and his assistants cross-compared the the entry/exit dates of Mister A to/from Taiwan against the dates of the receipts and the payments.  They discovered that this was a cover-up after the fact.

The President's Office might have been concerned from the manner and direction of Eric Chen's interview with the president, whereupon they suspect that the prosecutor was skeptical of the story about Mister A.  To reverse the tide, they brought out the Mister B show and asked President Chen's good friend Wu Wen-ching to play the role of secret diplomat and testify that he used the receipts to claim payment from the state secret fund.  All this was necessary because the President needed to conduct a war of diplomacy but he had no special funds for doing so.  Therefore, he was forced to use receipts from other people in order to make legal the use of the state secret fund.

Dramatically, Wu Wen-ching was summoned on October 31 on an emergency basis by the prosecutor Eric Chen to the Black Gold Center and told that Tseng Tien-tsu and others have confessed that they perjured on behalf of President Chen Shui-bian by fabricating the stories about Mister A and Mister B.  When Wu heard that, he was all shook up.  He admitted that he was ready to come down to the Black Gold Center to commit perjury in order to help the President and his wife.  But now that things have reached this stage, he had no choice but to tell the truth.

November 5, 2006

The matter of the case of Mister A (see Chen Shui-bian, Mister A and Mister B) is the most solid part of the case against First Lady Wu Shu-chen and a bunch of relatives, friends and government officials.  In brief, the President along with the indicted persons engaged in a conspiracy to present to the prosecutor the story of a Mister A who worked on secret diplomatic missions.  Details such as receipts and payments were concocted after the investigation began.  The physical evidence then showed that Mister A could not done it (namely, he was physically absent from Taiwan on all fourteen occasions when the others claimed that they personally took receipts from him or handed him the money in Taipei).  Apart from President Chen (who is immune from criminal charges as sitting president) and his wife, the other conspirators have all confessed.  The relevant charges are perjury and falsifying documents.
So what did the President have to say about Mister A in his televised address of November 5? (
扁:一審判有罪 我就下台!)

...  What about the Mister A that people care about?  I am genuinely concerned for his life and family property right now.  Originally, I told the prosecutor that there are many secrets that I cannot talk about.  There are many things that I cannot talk about upon pain of death.  As the prosecutor said, some things cannot be talked about even from the grave, because they are so secret.  I cannot talk about many things due to the national interests.  Even if someone steals the money from us during the diplomatic process, we cannot say anything.  That is why diplomacy is so difficult.  What can we do?  We have a "bad neighbor" over there and such are "my intentions and considerations."

... Some people have said that I must apologize on the matter of the secret diplomatic work of Mister A, no matter whether it was a well-intended or ill-intended lie.  But if the lie was well-intended to cover up secret diplomacy, then it is understandable.  But let us consider the legal principle of "conflict of obligations."  I must consider the national interests foremost, and therefore I was inconsistent and contradictory.  This led to misunderstanding by the prosecutor, or it affected the course of justice and the progress of the judicial investigation.  I am willing to apologize for that.

In order to conceal the secret diplomatic work and protect the national interests, I dared not tell the prosecutor about certain things that only a small number of colleagues at the National Security Agency know with respect to who said what to whom.  I had the best of intentions and I was doing my best.  The treatment that I am receiving today and my personal hardship cannot be understood by you.  But it does not matter because you chose me as your president and I will endure even greater hardship and grievances.

... I do not want to cling onto the job.  We do not have to wait until the final appeal.  If found guilty on the corruption charge on the initial trial, I will take a bow and resign!

Listening to the television pundits right now, there are two points that came out strongly with respect to Mister A.  First, there is a rumor being floated that Mister A is in mainland China and under the control of the Chinese government.  Therefore, he had to send in the fax to deny any involvement in the secret diplomacy, intelligence gathering or receiving payment.  But the prosecutor's case is made on the basis of the physical evidence (namely, the dates on the receipts and payment vouchers compared to his entry/exit records to/from Taiwan).  The fax is supportive but extraneous.  The obvious point is that if Mister A is in big trouble, then who is responsible for putting him into this position?  Who asked him to play this role out of personal loyalty?  That would be the president himself.  At a minimum, the President should have declared categorically Mister A had done none of the things that he and his subordinates presented to the prosecutor, as a principle of personal loyalty.  Instead, Mister A is left hanging out there, because President Chen Shui-bian cannot and will not directly admit that he was part of a conspiracy to commit perjury.  As a reminder, perjury carries a maximum penlaty of 5 years in prison.
Second, the last translated paragraph is
我不是戀棧職位,不必等到三審定讞,只要司法在一審判決貪污有罪,我立即下台一鞠躬! ("I do not want to cling on to the job.  We do not have to wait until the final appeal.  If found guilty on the corruption charge on the initial trial, I will take a bow and resign!").  Please note that the charges against Wu Shu-chen are (1) corruption/embezzlement; (2) perjury; (3) falsification of documents.  The proof on the perjury and falsification of documents seemed incontrovertible in the case of Mister A and a conviction seems inevitable.  So the President just took them out of the equation in his speech tonight.  He promised to quit only if found guilty on the corruption charge!  Even if he committed perjury and falsified documents, they were justifiable, irrelevant and/or inconsequential.  Very deft, indeed.
What about the corruption charge?  The prosecutor had scheduled appointments with the President and his wife for more interviews, but he felt that it was no longer necessary because he had sufficient evidence to indict after the other conspirators confessed.  His position with respect to the corruption/embezzlement issue is that the presidential office accounting department reimbursed the money to Wu Shu-chen on the basis of the falsified documents and the ultimate application of the money (e.g. secret diplomatic missions, Red Cross donations, diamond rings, etc) was immaterial.  What do you think? 
If an accountant took $14 million from a company and route it to the Red Cross, should she go free?

(Taipei Times)  Presidential Office in crisis: Presidential Office says foreign media misinterpreted Chen.  By Ko Shu-ling.  November 8, 2006.

The Presidential Office yesterday said that two foreign newspapers that reported President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had admitted lying to prosecutors about the alleged misuse of the "state affairs fund" might have misinterpreted his words.  "The President did not lie to prosecutors," said Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽). "I think they [newspapers] did not fully understand what the president said."

Lee made the remarks in response to reports published recently in both the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald.  With a headline that read "Taiwan's Leader Admits Lies, but Says He Won't Step Down" dated Nov. 6, the New York Times said Chen admitted on Sunday that he "submitted false receipts for reimbursement from public funds and lied to prosecutors about how he spent the money, but said he had done so in the interest of national security."  The Sydney Morning Herald, in an article dated Nov. 7, also reported that Chen "admitted lying and submitting false receipts for reimbursement from public funds."

Lee said Chen opted to withhold the information about a secret agent, "Person A," during the prosecutor's questioning, which may have led to the misunderstanding.  Somebody might have lied about the secret diplomatic projects in the process, but that person was not Chen, Lee said.

Chen said on Sunday in a televised press conference that "somebody has lied about the secret jobs conducted by `Person A.'  "No matter whether it was a malicious lie or a white lie, I think an apology is necessary. However, if the white lie was made to protect secret diplomatic projects, can we consider it as an excusable error?" he said.

Chen said that he "was willing to apologize for making incoherent statements during the questioning but that they were made in the interest of national security."  He said that he "did not dare to say or think it was a better idea to withhold the information," but it might have caused the prosecutors to misunderstand him.

中 華 民 國 刑 法 第 一 三 四 條
公 務 員 假 借 職 務 上 之 權 力 、 機 會 或 方 法 , 以 故 意 犯 本 章 以 外 各 罪 者 , 加 重 其 刑 至 二 分 之 一 。
但 因 公 務 員 之 身 分 已 特 別 規 定 其 刑 者 , 不 在 此 限 。

中 華 民 國 刑 法 第 一 六 八 條
於執 行 審 判 職 務 之 公 署 審 判 時 或 於 檢 察 官 偵 查 時 , 證 人 、 鑑 定 人 、 通 譯 於 案 情 有 重 要關 係 之 事 項 , 供 前 或 供 後 具 結 , 而 為 虛 偽 陳 述 者 , 處 七 年 以 下 有 期 徒 刑 。

中 華 民 國 刑 法 第 二 一 ○ 條
偽 造 、 變 造 私 文 書 , 足 以 生 損 害 於 公 眾 或 他 人 者 , 處 五 年 以 下 有 期 徒 刑 。

中 華 民 國 刑 法 第 二 一 四 條
明 知 為 不 實 之 事 項 , 而 使 公 務 員 登 載 於 職 務 上 所 掌 之 公 文 書 , 足 以 生 損 害 於 公 眾 或 他 人 者 , 處 三 年 以 下 有 期 徒 刑 、 拘 役 或 五 百 元 以 下 罰 金 。

中 華 民 國 刑 法 第 二 一 六 條
行 使 第 二 一 ○ 條 至 第 二 一 五 條 之 文 書 者 , 依 偽 造 、 變 造 文 書 或 登 載 不 實 事 項 或 使 登 載 不 實 事 項 之 規 定 處 斷 。

貪 污 治 罪 條 例 第 五 條
有 下 列 行 為 之 一 者 , 處 七 年 以 上 有 期 徒 刑 , 得 併 科 新 台 幣 六 千 萬 元 以 下 罰 金 :
一 、 意 圖 得 利 , 擅 提 或 截 留 公 款 或 違 背 法 令 收 募 稅 捐 或 公 債 者 。
二 、 利 用 職 務 上 之 機 會 , 詐 取 財 物 者 。
三 、 對 於 職 務 上 之 行 為 , 要 求 、 期 約 或 收 受 賄 賂 或 其 他 不 正 利 益 者 。
前 項 第 一 款 及 第 二 款 之 未 遂 犯 罰 之 。