Six officials and one contractor were taken into custody late on Monday night after an investigation by the Taichung Prosecutors’ Office in which several top management officials at the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) were alleged to have accepted bribes and sexual favors from a contractor.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday said the six officials have been suspended from their duties and other officials involved in the case will be disciplined and punished according to both the circumstances and regulatory framework.
The Executive Yuan granted a budget of NT$14.9 billion (US$510 million) for the TRA’s “Around-the-Nation Safety Enhancement Project,” to be carried out from January 2009 to December this year. However, it was noted that many bids were won by the same contractor.
TRA deputy director-general Chung Chao-hsiung (鍾朝雄), who was in office for less than one month, was alleged to have close ties with contractors when he was serving as chief engineer at the TRA.
Chung was alleged, in conjunction with other officials, to have revealed the minimum price to the contractor, provided the contractor with altered construction plans as well as increased the construction budget and delayed the start of the construction projects.
The results of initial investigations showed that officials were treated to weekly sexual favors costing about NT$3 million in total, which were shouldered by the contractor. Officials’ signatures for various visits were found in account books.
“In addition to being treated to special types of business facilities for drinking and eating, we discovered that the contractors may have given the officials some valuable things as gifts,” said Tsai Tsung-hsi (蔡宗熙), a prosecutor at the Taichung Prosecutors’ Office.
He added that prosecutors suspect a vehicle worth NT$2 million was given to Chung.
The court agreed to the prosecutors’ request to hold the six officials in addition to one contractor to prevent the alteration or destruction of evidence.
The ministry yesterday quoted Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) as having instructed the TRA to fully cooperate with the judicial authorities in their investigation while warning that officials conducting illegal operations would be severely punished.