Ex-Taiwan leader's wife pleads guilty

Feb. 10, 2009 at 10:01 PM

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Wu Shu-chen, wife of former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzlement and money laundering charges.

After arriving for her appearance in Taipei District Court in a wheelchair, Wu admitted transferring money overseas, taking $2.2 million meant for construction of Nangang Exhibition Hall, receiving $5.9 million from Taiwan Cement Group Chairman Leslie Koo and had forged documents in a government special expenses case, China Daily reported.

Wu denied, however, that she had embezzled special expenses from the government, saying she helped collect expense-claim invoices as requested by her husband's assistants.

She called Koo's payment a campaign donation, rather than a kickback for Taiwan Cement's successful bid for land in Hsinchu Science Park.

The trial was adjourned until March 3.

After her hearing, Wu read a statement expressing regret and apologizing.

Because of Wu's apparent frail health, court officials took the rare step of enforcing a 10-minute break for every 30 minutes of court time. Two doctors and two nurses stood by, and an ambulance was stationed outside.

Chen's son and daughter-in-law -- Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching -- pleaded guilty to money laundering last month. A total of eight people have pleaded guilty in the case.

Chen Shui-bian is charged with embezzlement, taking bribes, money laundering, influence peddling and extortion. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

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