Friday's verdict in the Taipei District Court comes more than a year later after allegations of corruption and money laundering totaling $24.4 million came to light, Time Magazine reported. The cases involved 14 people, including Chen, his relatives, former aides, government officials and business leaders.
The judges sentenced Chen's wife, Wu Shu-jen to life in prison, fined her $9.2 million for her role in the scheme and stripped her of her civil rights for life, Time said.
Chen, the first former Taiwan president to be convicted of corruption, said he is innocent, claiming the judiciary mounted a politically motivated campaign of retribution against him.
Taipei District Court spokesman Huang Chun-ming said Chen received the severe sentence because he caused a loss to the nation due to his background and office. Wu, as first lady, also drew a harsh sentence, Huang said.
Chen and Wu each received life sentences for misusing $3.2 million from the special presidential state affairs fund. Chen and Wu were sentenced to eight years and 18 years for money laundering, respectively.