Five customs officials suspected of taking bribes were detained yesterday on charges of corruption, while a retired official was released on bail.
Taipei district prosecutors, accompanied by Investigation Bureau officials, had raided 13 locations a day earlier and arrested the six, who had been under investigation since early this month on suspicion of helping importers smuggle goods into the country and evade or pay lower import duties.
After lengthy questioning, prosecutors asked that Chou Chia-ping (周家屏), a former Keelung Customs Bureau deputy director who has been transferred to the Taoyuan Customs Bureau, be detained along with Keelung Customs Bureau goods inspectors Huang Chih-ming (黃智銘), Shen Chia-ching (沈家慶), Wang Yi-shun (王怡舜) and Cheng Heng-yi (程恆毅). The Taipei District Court approved the request.
The court ordered that the five be held incommunicado to avoid collusion and to prevent them from destroying evidence.
Chang Liang-chang (張良章), the sixth suspect and another former Keelung Customs Bureau deputy director who recently retired, was released on NT$200,000 bail.
The investigation began last year after the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was tipped off about suspected price haggling over the phone between a customs broker and a Keelung customs official. Investigators later found that many Keelung customs officials, along with officials of the Directorate-General of Customs, were involved in covering up the smuggling of banned goods.
They also discovered that brokers used bribes to curry favor with customs officials, who would help importers of fish products, liquor and chocolate evade tariffs or pay lower duties by underestimating the value of their imports.
An investigation was launched last month and Deputy Director-General of Customs Lu Tsai-yih (呂財益), the second-highest-ranking customs official, was detained.
The customs agency’s top official, Wu Ai-kuo (吳愛國), resigned as director-general on July 18 after being handed a major demerit for his ineffective supervision of customs operations. Deputy Minister of Finance Hwang Ding-fang (黃定方) has replaced Wu as interim director-general.