Ministry of Justice officials yesterday confirmed that 10 Taiwanese have been arrested in China in recent days in connection with a new case of telecom fraud based in Africa, reportedly in Uganda.
Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) last night said the suspects were part of a group of 62 people detained by Chinese police over their alleged roles in a telecom fraud ring that engaged in money transfer scams targeting banks and people in China.
“We spoke with officials at the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, our counterpart and collaboration partner according to the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議),” Chen said. “It was confirmed that 62 suspects were arrested in China, not in Uganda, with 10 being Taiwanese.”
“The suspects were arrested over the past few weeks and were not all rounded up in one raid yesterday. The Chinese ministry said they had completed their investigations and it was time to announce their results,” he said.
Chen said Taipei has requested a joint investigation of the case according to the agreement.
“We asked the Chinese authorities to protect the rights of the Taiwanese suspects,” Chen said.
According to reports by Chinese state media, the Taiwanese were “ringleaders” of the alleged fraud operation, while the rest of the suspects are Chinese.
The Uganda operation allegedly transferred an estimated 117 million yuan (US$18 million), Chinese media reported.
Chinese public security agencies in Guizhou Province spent four months investigating the case, identifying 180 people across 20 cities and provinces who were affected by the scam, Chinese media reported.
The case follows a similar situation in Kenya, in which Beijing came under fire for extraditing Taiwanese linked to a fraud operation in Kenya to China.
The Mainland Affairs Council and the Criminal Investigation Bureau also spoke to Chinese authorities yesterday, seeking more information, including the identities and condition of the Taiwanese suspects in the Uganda case.
As of press time last night, there was no independent confirmation that the Taiwanese were the “ringleaders,” nor was it known where they were being detained.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was using its diplomatic channels in Africa to contact Ugandan authorities to learn details about the case.