A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor yesterday accused Taipei City’s Department of Government Ethics of not properly investigating alleged corruption at the city’s Traffic Adjudication Office, and urged the department to look into the possibility of a culture of corruption at the office.
A worker at the office, Chen Man-li (陳曼麗), was accused of asking for a “handling fee” from a driver who had accumulated traffic tickets totaling NT$79,300. The driver, identified as “Mr. C,” said Chen tried to collect what she called a “handling fee” of NT$2,000 for helping him reduce the fines to NT$59,700 when he visited the office to pay the fine in April last year. He rejected the proposal and decided to pay the fine later.
Chen made another two attempts to collect the “fee” in May and October, negotiating the price down to NT$1,500, prompting him to record a conversation and call the police, Mr. C said.
“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s illegal. I don’t think I am the only one she asked, and I suspect that it is common practice in the office,” he said at a press conference at the Taipei City Council.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) said she reported the case to Taipei City’s Department of Government Ethics in October. However, the department said Chen was only joking with Mr. C, and concluded that she was acting alone.
“What do we need the department for if it cannot help citizens uncover the truth and reveal corruption within the city government?” Chien said.
She also accused the office of seeking to diminish the effect of the case by asking Chen to resign the day it came to light, and suggested that “handling fees” had long been demanded at the office.
The department yesterday insisted that it had conducted a thorough investigation and taken disciplinary action against Chen. According to Chen Wen-ling (陳文玲), a departmental division chief, five office staffers had been interviewed and the case is under judicial investigation, with employees fully cooperating with the probe.
Deputy director of the office, Su Fu-chi (蘇福智), dismissed the accusations of collective corruption, and said the office had given Chen Man-li a major demerit for damaging the office’s reputation.