Prosecutors have arrested 13 people, including four army personnel, in a major graft case involving members of the military allegedly receiving regular monthly bribes and kickbacks from contractors in exchange for procuring contracts for tanks and armored vehicles.
The New Taipei City District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday detained Staff Sergeant Chang Lung-sheng (張曨升) and civilian contractor Tseng Shih-feng (曾世鋒) and they were held incommunicado.
Tseng, a sales manger at Yi Chih Co (益志公司), which along with Min Chang Machinery Co (敏昌機械公司), both located in New Taipei City, have been the main suppliers of steel-plated treads for armored vehicles at army production and service units, with total business contracts worth NT$1.5 billion (US$47.73million) over the past five years.
Photo: Lo Tien-pin, Taipei Times
Upon being questioned by prosecutors, Tseng allegedly admitted to having supplied “bad quality treads” to the Army Logistics Command in Taipei’s Nankang District (南港).
The procurement of the treads also involved the Ordnance Readiness Development Center (ORDC) in Jiji Township (集集), Nantou County, which is known for its production of the CM-12 and CM-11 “Brave Tiger” tanks, along with CM-21 armored vehicles and the CM-32 “Clouded Leopard” Taiwan Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
“This graft scandal is another embarrassment for the military. They took bribes to outfit the tanks and military vehicles with inferior treads that break easily, get tangled up or stuck in rough terrain,” a prosecutor was quoted as saying.
“In time of war, our nation’s vaunted ‘Brave Tiger’ tanks and ‘Clouded Leopard’ armored vehicles would be rendered immobile and become easy targets for the enemy,” he added.
Prosecutors arrested the 13 suspects on Wednesday and, after questioning, seven were released yesterday after posting bail ranging from NT$20,000 to NT$100,000.
Captain Lee Ching-hsiang (李璟翔), Sergeant Major Wang Chun-yen (王俊彥), who both serve at the ORDC, along with procurement Chief Officer Hsueh Hui-chen (薛惠珍) of Army Logistics Command were among those arrested and questioned on Wednesday.
Head Prosecutor Wang Cheng-hao (王正皓) said military vehicle equipment and parts suppliers needed to pass certification and standard testing at the ORDC.
“These two companies obtained the certification by bribing the military officials in charge of the standards testing. Then they follow up by paying regular bribes and kickbacks to secure the contracts,” Wang said.
A spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office said sales personnel at Yi Chih and Min Chang made regular payments of up to NT$80,000 each month to the military officials in charge of armored vehicle parts procurement.
The two companies reportedly secured contracts to supply parts and materials for the military’s armored vehicles worth about NT$1 billion in the past two years and NT$1.5 billion in the past five years.
The companies also allegedly paid kickbacks of up to NT$100,000 for each contract. In addition, the companies treated the military personnel at upscale nightclubs, where sexual services were proffered by female hostesses, prosecutors said.
The Ministry of National Defense yesterday issued a statement saying that it would cooperate with the investigation and had formed a task force to identify any other possible instances of corruption in the military.
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South