A government report found at least 146 military officials involved in 34 cases of alleged promotion-buying and 21 procurement scandals, with 114 of the suspects in the highest tier of the country’s three-tier enlisted force structure.
Ministry of National Defense (MND) Minister Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) and Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) jointly presented the report yesterday, the deadline set by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in April for the MND to report on corruption in the military. Ma’s action came in the wake of a spate of scandals involving the defense ministry.
Among the cases listed in the report, seven involve officers who are already under investigation while the other 48 cases involving 142 military officers had recently been referred by the MND to military prosecuters.
The 142 military officers include 40 lieutenant generals, 74 major generals, seven colonels, 10 lieutenant colonels, seven majors, one captain and one sergeant, the report showed.
“There have been concerns that our investigation was only aimed at low-level officers, but it was not,” Chen said. “The percentage of high-ranking officers was substantial, showing that the ministry is determined to impartially investigate suspects regardless of rank.”
During the past three months, Chen said the ministry had launched a comprehensive probe that included 910 promotion cases since 1998, 3,220 cases involving construction projects, 16,857 cases involving procurements, 21,402 cases concerning public spending and 5,087 cases that allegedly involved promotion-buying.
When asked why the ministry sent just 48 cases out of the 47,476 cases investigated to military prosecutors for further investigation, Chen said these particular cases were highly suspect.
• Using electronic monitoring to prevent suspects and defendants, who are not in detention, from fleeing.
• Preventing reporters from gathering outside prosecutors’ offices and hindering investigations. The government may relocate the offices, subpoena suspects to other locations or station police outside the offices.
• Preventing suspects from colluding while they wait for courts to review detention appeals. To this end, the government could create a system allowing prosecutors to file appeals on the spot if a judge rejects a detention request and orders the release of a suspect.
• Tightening regulations against bribery to impose penalties on anyone found to have offered bribes. Currently, only those who hold government positions are subject to penalties.
• Revising regulations to prevent harassment of witnesses.
• Introducing a post-conviction detention system for serious crimes that would keep defendants in custody after being convicted in their first trial while proceedings continue.
• Revising regulations to prevent interference by media commentators. The government could grant parties involved in investigations the right to demand that media stop broadcasting details of the investigation or run corrections of incorrect coverage; or to seek provisional injunctions or compensation.
Source:MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
The ministry will refer other cases for further investigation if any more evidence is found, Chen said.
“[The investigation into irregularities] was just the beginning. It will not stop until all corruption is swept away and the military is clean. We have to ferret out the dishonest and restore discipline in the military so that the army can use its strength to protect the nation,” Chen said.
To complete the report, the MND and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) formed a joint task force, with Chen and Wang both agreeing to turn the mechanism into a standing agency.
The MOJ yesterday also presented a set of measures to clean up politics.
Wang said her ministry had drawn up a list of problems that impede investigation and proposed suggestions to address flaws in the judicial system as well as in rules and regulations.
“Integrity is the one and only way to enhance the country’s competitiveness,” Wang said.
The set of suggestions proposed by the MOJ came from its review of 12 scandals, which included the alleged corruption cases involving former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his family members, the case involving Ma’s mayoral fund during his stint as Taipei mayor and the case of alleged money laundering involving the former president’s family physician, Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥).
When asked why the report did not address the problem of judicial personnel integrity, Wang mentioned Huang’s alleged disappearance.
“I thought you were referring to why Huang was able to flee to the US after some people put the blame on State Public Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明). I was very much concerned about this, but as it is still under investigation by the Special Prosecutors Panel, I have no comment on that,” Wang said.