25 Oct 2008

Taiwan court convicts man in PNG diplomacy fraud case

10:00 am on 25 October 2008

The Taipei District Court in Taiwan has returned a guilty verdict on Wu Shih-tsai, a key suspect in the Papua New Guinea diplomatic fraud scandal.

The Taipei Times says Wu, who has been in custody since May, faces over two years in prison after the Court found him guilty on charges of forgery and defamation.

The court heard that Wu and another main suspect, Ching Chi-ju, were commissioned in August 2006 by the foreign ministry to act as intermediaries in an attempt to set up diplomatic relations with Papua New Guinea.

A sum of 29.8 million US dollars was wired to a bank account that the pair had opened in Singapore.

The funds were to be sent to the PNG government once a diplomatic communiqué was signed.

The court was told that following the failure of the attempt in 2006, the ministry asked for its money back but Chin allegedly refused to return the funds and has since disappeared.

A Court spokesman said Wu will remain in custody even if he decides to appeal against the sentence, which he can do within 10 days of receiving the written verdict.