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Disgraced Chen quits the DPP

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former President Chen Shui-bian gave up his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) membership yesterday after money laundering allegations surfaced against him and his family Wednesday.

“I have to say sorry to DPP members and supporters with a heavy heart. I let everybody down and caused irreparable damage to the party. This was not my intention, but I made mistakes,” Chen said in a statement.

“To show my deepest remorse, my wife Wu Shu-chen and I leave the DPP from now,” he said.

The statement came hours after Taiwan’s premier, Liu Chao-shiuan, confirmed an investigation had been launched into the money laundering claims apparently implicating the Chen family, following similar moves by Swiss authorities.

Swiss prosecutors “have requested assistance in their investigation and we have immediately started our own probe,” Liu told reporters.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office sent a top official to Switzerland earlier this week “to exchange views” with the authorities there, said spokesman Fred Lin.

Copies of Swiss documents obtained by Kuomintang lawmaker Hung Hsiu-chu showed that Chen’s son Chen Chih-chung and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching had transferred US$31 million to Huang’s Swiss bank accounts in 2007.

The couple left Taiwan on Aug. 9 before the case came to light, according to Taiwanese authorities.

Chen admitted Thursday in front of TV cameras that his wife wired US$20 million of “surplus funds” from his previous election campaign contributions into Swiss bank accounts, saying she had done so without his knowledge. He has denied money laundering.

Meanwhile, DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen apologized to the public and said the party would not cover up for Chen. A string of DPP lawmakers and party officials urged the party to draw the line with the former president.

Chen is already under investigation for allegedly embezzling NT$14.8 million in special expenses from the government while he was president, and his wife is on trial for corruption and document forgery in the same case.

He was named a suspect in that case in 2006 but escaped immediate prosecution because he had presidential immunity. Prosecutors launched a probe against Chen on May 20 — the day he left office after his second and final four-year term.

He was questioned Tuesday over the embezzlement allegations, a week after his successor Ma Ying-jeou declassified documents allegedly implicating him.

Chen has admitted using false receipts to claim money from the state, but insisted those funds were used for “secret diplomatic missions” and not his personal benefit.

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Disgraced Chen quits the DPP
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen apologizes to supporters as she explains that the party will not cover for former President Chen Shui-bian, during a ...

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