03/18/2009, 00.00
TAIWAN
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Former first lady Wu Shuchen denies accusations of corruption and appropriation of state funds

In a dramatic confrontation with the former accountant of president Chen Shuibian, Wu insists that all of the money withdrawn was used for legitimate purposes. The trial continues tomorrow.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) - On the first day of the trial before Taipei District Court, on charges of corruption and embezzlement, former first lady Wu Shuchen denied using public funds for personal purposes.

During a dramatic confrontation with Chen Chenghui, the former chief accountant for her husband, former Taiwanese president Chen Shuibian, Wu denied having embezzled a single cent, turning the accusation back against the accountant, who "did all the accounting."

Chen Chenghui has already pleaded guilty to charges of embezzlement, money-laundering, and forgery during pretrial hearings, but said she had acted on instructions from Wu and two of the president's former advisers, Ma Yungcheng and Lin Tehhsun. Again yesterday, Chen said that Wu had asked her "to send the money, sometimes NT million [about 225,000 euros], to her at the presidential residence." She added that Wu had repeatedly asked her to send her sums of 1 to 10 million Taiwanese dollars, and that either Ma or Lin was aware of all of the withdrawals.

Wun insisted that all of the money taken from public accounts "was handed to the president to cover public activities." She also reiterated that all of the money she sent abroad was her own, and earned legally. In pretrial hearings, she admitted to money-laundering and forgery, but denied the much more serious charges of embezzlement and accepting bribes.

Wu is accused of, among other things, embezzling 104 million Taiwanese dollars in public funds, and receiving 498 million in bribes. The trial will continue tomorrow.

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