A senior official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) found guilty of labor fraud in the US and deported to Taiwan yesterday apologized for her actions as the ministry referred the case to the Control Yuan for investigation, officials said.
Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍), the former director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, Missouri, arrived in Taipei on Wednesday and returned to work under the title “director-general on home assignment.”
In a signed statement, Liu expressed “deep regret and apologies” for tarnishing the image of the government as a result of the case.
The 64-year-old was arrested by the FBI on Nov. 10 last year and charged with labor contract fraud in connection with her mistreatment of two Filipino housekeepers, who traveled to the US to work for her on B-1 visas.
Liu pleaded guilty on Nov. 18, with a court statement saying she admitted to fraudulently entering into employment contracts with the two maids, paying them significantly less than the contractual amount and forcing them to work excessive hours.
The court on Jan. 27 accepted a plea agreement by which Liu was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay US$80,044 in restitution to the two housekeepers, which represents full pay for the hours they actually worked, based upon a work schedule of 16 hours to 18 hours per day, six-and-a-half days a week, and deported.
US prosecutors charged Liu with mistreating her housekeepers. The prosecutors said that she confiscated the passport of one of the maids, prevented her from coming and going freely, monitored her using video surveillance cameras and verbally abused her. Liu was said to have treated previous maids similarly.
However, in Liu’s statement, she denied the mistreatment allegations, saying: “I hereby solemnly declare that [the charges] are not true.”
Liu said she would cooperate with the Control Yuan and Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office in their respective investigations to “reveal the truth.”
The ministry yesterday decided to suspend her for the duration of the investigation and cut her salary to about NT$26,000 (US$879), from NT$97,000, according to rules governing awards and penalties for public servants.
Ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said Liu was punished for “dereliction of duty” after the task force the ministry set up to probe the case completed its internal investigation yesterday.
“The ministry deeply deplores that the nation received international condemnation because of the case involving Liu, who was a high-ranking official, and that the image of the country as a whole was negatively influenced,” he said.
Chang declined to reveal any details about the mistreatment allegations the task force uncovered in its internal investigation.
The way Liu treated her housekeepers was “inappropriate,” but the ministry was unable to determine whether she had mistreated them, Chang said.
According to the contract, the second housekeeper was required to work 40 hours a week, eight hours a day for a salary of US$1,240 a month, but Liu paid her US$590.
Chang said the ministry found that there was no corruption involved in the case because Liu sought reimbursement from the ministry for a salary of US$590 rather than the US$1,240 stipulated in the contract.