Former Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology director Chen Yu-wu (陳友武), a retired lieutenant general, was sentenced yesterday to seven years and six months in prison for corruption, the Ministry of National Defense said.
Chen was found guilty of embezzling NT$3.1 million in public funds during his term as director of the institute, which develops weapons, between 1998 and 2001. Chen is the highest-ranking military official to be convicted of corruption in recent years.
Three other military officials, who were Chen's aides, were sentenced to three years and eight months for helping Chen embezzle the money.
Corruption is a perennial problem in the military despite repeated declarations by the ministry that it would look into all irregularities.
Chen's case raises concern because it shows corruption goes all the way to the top and has been continuing at least until recently.
The military court said in its ruling that Chen and his three aides created various false expenses to swindle the government of the funds.
Businessmen helped Chen and his aides by providing blank invoices for them to make false claims for expenses.
One of the things Chen spent the money on was six high-quality, tailor-made business suits worth around NT$250,000.
Perhaps the most scandalous waste of public money was Chen's trip to the US in June 2000.
Investigations by the Control Yuan, which impeached Chen over the corruption scandal, found that Chen and his aides falsely claimed the trip was to investigate a cruise-missile program, when in fact their intent was to go sight-seeing.
During the trip, Chen visited his children who were staying there at the time, while his aides went to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The US trip cost the government NT$593,000.
Chen's wife, Wang Lu-lu (王璐璐), was also implicated by the Control Yuan in the scandal.
Wang, who ran a flower shop, was found to have used her husband's connections to get orders for flowers from the institute.