One must take a practical view of whether arrangements should be regarded as quid pro quo bribes. Elected representatives, for example, do not necessarily have any direct influence or the ability to decide on government procurements or tenders, but if they demand, agree to take or actually receive money from contractors, and undertake to force the government’s hand through amendments and proposals, or even by cutting budgets, to ensure that the contractor involved wins a major bid, then this should be regarded as a quid pro quo arrangement.
This is why Article 5 of the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) stipulates that anyone “demanding, taking or promising to take bribes or other unlawful profits by an act that belongs to [their] official duties ... shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of no less than seven years.”
Receiving money in this way, whether it is characterized as a political donation, a consultancy fee or whatever, is a crime.
No matter how one characterizes receiving money, be it as a political donation, a consultancy fee or whatever, a crime has been committed.
What is more, this crime is technically referred to as a behavioral offense — as opposed to a consequential offense — which is to say the crime is established by the act itself, in this case, the initial demand, regardless of whether one eventually benefits or profits from that demand.
Whether the money has been returned certainly has no bearing on the verdict.
With a succession of corruption cases under investigation, is it really the case that it is impossible to clean politics up in Taiwan?
Wu Ching-chin is an associate professor in the Department of Financial and Economic Law at Aletheia University.
Translated by Paul Cooper