The Taiwan High Court yesterday found former representative to Fiji Victor Chin (秦日新) guilty of forgery and sentenced him to six months in prison.
Chin was accused of instructing his subordinate, Yang -Ching-hui (楊慶輝), to purchase 36 bottles of red wine costing more than NT$210,000 and making up fake lists of guests for banquets to file an expense account in 2005, when Chin served as the -director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of North American Affairs.
Chin, who resigned from his Fiji post on July 21 over a separate controversy and has since given up his job at the foreign ministry in Taipei, was found innocent in the first and second trials, in which the judges ruled that Chin was unaware of the purchase.
Yang was subsequently awarded a deferred prosecution. However, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial, resulting in the Taiwan High Court’s ruling yesterday.
A collegial panel held that Chin should have been aware of the purchase since he approved and signed the guest lists and the bill. The panel said Chin made up 11 false diplomatic banquets in December 2005 before he was posted to New Zealand the following year.
Yesterday’s ruling can still be appealed.
Chin last month was involved in another high-profile controversy, in which he was accused of misappropriating government money to fund an extramarital affair with a Japanese diplomat and of claiming allowances and tuition subsidies intended for the families of diplomats posted abroad, when both his wife and daughter were at home in Taiwan when he was posted to Fiji.
The ministry has completed an internal probe and has referred the case to the Agency Against Corruption and the Control Yuan.
Spokesman James Chang (章計平) yesterday said the ministry respects all judicial decisions and will cooperate on further investigations if necessary.
Asked to comment on the case, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) urged the public “not to treat the foreign ministry’s staffers like rats scampering in the street.”
“It’s unfair,” Yang said.
“Though I can’t say that [Chin] was the first diplomat found guilty [of corruption] in the ministry’s history, it’s a rare case,” Yang said, adding that most of the ministry’s staff “devote their whole heart and effort [into doing their job]” and Chin’s case “was not a reflection of the performance of the ministry’s staff.”
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan