Sat, May 26, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Prosecutors drop charges against Jacqueline Liu

‘CIVIL, NOT CRIMINAL’:The disgraced diplomat’s case was closed due to lack of evidence of the embezzlement, human trafficking and fraud that she was charged with

Staff writer, with CNA

Not enough evidence was found to indict Taiwanese diplomat Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍) over abuse of her maids in the US and violating the Criminal Code, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.

The office closed the case and described it as a civil dispute because insufficient evidence was presented to support criminal charges against Liu, who was the former director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, Missouri.

Liu was accused of abusing her two Filipino maids in the US, and faced potential charges of embezzlement, fraud and violating the Human Trafficking Prevention Act (人口販運防制法).

Liu had been suspected of embezzlement because she had signed a contract with the maids to give them a monthly salary of US$1,240, but only paid them US$450 a month.

However, prosecutors found that the amount Liu paid was the amount she reported back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for reimbursement, indicating she had not embezzled funds.

Regarding the accusations that Liu’s payment of only a fraction of the contracted amount constituted fraud, the maids had agreed to the monthly salary and to have accommodation, food and insurance expenses deducted from it, prosecutors said.

Since the maids had agreed to the conditions, Liu could not be indicted for fraud, prosecutors said, noting that the circumstances involved were more suited to a civil case than a criminal one.

An investigation by prosecutors also discovered that the US$1,240 contract provided by an official at Taiwan’s representative office in the Philippines who interviewed the maids was calculated in accordance with the minimum wage in the US and included insurance, local media reported.

As for the human trafficking charges and Liu restricting the maids’ freedom with three surveillance cameras, the cameras had actually been installed in the house before she was posted to the US, the reports said.

Liu was arrested by the FBI on Nov. 10 last year, and was detained for two months before entering a plea agreement.

Under the deal, she was ordered to pay US$80,044 in restitution to the two maids on Jan. 27, and was deported to Taiwan on Feb. 15. Liu was questioned by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Feb. 22. The case has prompted the ministry to review its employment system for foreign housekeepers in the homes of diplomats stationed overseas.

The Control Yuan last month impeached Liu after it completed its probe into her case and accused her of malfeasance for having hired a Chinese woman as a housekeeper in a move it said “raised national security concerns.”

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