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Taiwan's Top Satellite Official Arrested On Graft Charges

Lance Wu, head of the Taiwan National Space Program Office.
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) May 31, 2007
The top government official in charge of satellite research and development in Taiwan was arrested Thursday on corruption charges, a prosecutor said. Lance Wu, the head of the National Space Program Office, was taken into custody after being questioned overnight, Lin Lih-yng, a prosecutor at the Hsinch District Court, told AFP.

"Wu is suspected of inflating the price for the ARGO satellite project ... and of benefiting himself and some other people," Lin said, without going into details.

The project, launched in 2005 and named after a ship in Greek mythology, aims to put a satellite into the Earth's orbit by late next year.

Some 21 other people, including Wu's predecessor, space programme officials and a local broker of Canadian-based firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd, were questioned and released Wednesday, the prosecutor said.

The firm was given the contract to launch the satellite and provide engineering and mission support, but the agreement was scrapped when it failed to get an export license from the Canadian government.

A Taiwanese legislator, Liao Pen-yen, first raised queries about the project in parliament last year.

"There were a couple of suspicions in the case," Liao told AFP.

These included a discrepancy between the satellite launch cost quoted by the space office and the Canadian firm, he said.

Close to 600 million Taiwan dollars (18.18 million US) may have gone to individuals' pockets from contracts linked to the project, he said.

Taiwan has launched a number of satellites, including six weather satellites in April 2006.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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