Presidential Office denies meeting with Ching Fu officials

Taipei-The Presidential Office denied on Wednesday having ever met with senior-level officials from Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co. (CFS), in the wake of media reports claiming it pressured the Navy to transfer funds to the financially troubled private shipbuilder.

According to Presidential Office spokesperson Sidney Lin (???), the office has reviewed all visitor records for the offices of the president, vice president, secretary-general to the president, deputy secretaries-general as well as the secretary-general and deputy secretaries-general of the National Security Council since inauguration on May 20, 2016, and found no record of any meeting with CFS chairman Chen Ching-nan (???) or his son and vice chairman Chen Wei-chih (???).

The Presidential Office will look through the records for other CFS personnel and make a public statement shortly to clear things up, Lin continued.

Lin's response came after Chen Wei-chih seemed to confirm a report in the China Times published on Tuesday that he visited the Presidential Office to ask officials to put pressure on the Navy to expedite payment to CFS for contracted work.

Chen was asked by reporters, when he reported at a police station in Kaohsiung for questioning Tuesday night, whether he visited the Presidential Office, to which he nodded but did not make any comment.

CFS is currently under investigation after defaulting on a NT$20.5 billion (US$681.7 million) syndicated loan.

Chen Wei-chih later clarified what was taken as non-verbal confirmation after Lin's statement on Wednesday, saying that he was nodding to indicate he had visited the Presidential Office but only on a guided tour not to meet with officials.

According to the media report, a Navy official told Chen Wei-chih that they did not have the NT$2.4 billion owed to his company on Sept. 27 of last year, but that after Chen had a meeting at the Presidential Office, the Navy paid CFS in December.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Presidential Office said the contract to build six minesweepers for the Navy was part of a domestic warship program awarded by the previous administration and reiterated that the Ministry of National Defense and other agencies have carried out the project according to the terms of the contract since the current government took office in May 2016.

The Navy also issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it paid CFS according to the provisions of the contract and did not receive any instructions from the Presidential Office or a supervisory unit with regards the payment.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel