A legislative committee yesterday approved an amendment to the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) that would impose a maximum prison term of three years and a fine of NT$500,000 on people who attempt to bribe government officials.
In its current form, the act only punishes government officials taking bribes, but not people who offer bribes.
The Ministry of Justice said the amendment, which it initiated, could deter people from offering bribes to public officials and help weed out corruption.
The amendment was approved by the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee and still has to be approved by the full legislature.
Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) told reporters that the practice of public school presidents taking money from people who are looking for jobs as teachers was rampant.
While the current law only punishes public school presidents, the amendment would also punish bribers and could deter bribery, Tseng said.
Some people think it is better to offer hongbao (red envelopes containing cash) to public officials when doing business with the government, but the new law could discourage them from doing so, Tseng added.
Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) said some construction companies were used to offering bribes to public officials to ensure “smooth” progress for their projects, but the amendment would make such behavior “criminal.”
In 2009, several bank executives were accused of bribing former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) into pressuring the Ministry of Finance to approve mergers during the second phase of financial reforms, but while Chen was indicted for taking bribes, the bank executives were not charged.
Chen Shou-huang said the ministry proposed the amendment to stop such unfair practices.