Thu, Sep 07, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Terms commuted in Vietnam student visa bribery case

GUILTY:Hsiao Yu-wen and Tsao Pao-lin colluded to approve student visas in exchange for cash for unqualified Vietnamese seeking to study in Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

The Taiwan High Court yesterday commuted from 12 years to 10 years the jail sentence of Hsiao Yu-wen (蕭裕文), a former secretary at the nation’s representative office in Vietnam, for corruption in a student visa bribery scandal.

According to the court ruling, Hsiao was found guilty on 27 counts of profiteering and of having property he could not account for.

His assets acquired via illegal means, including 83 Louis Vuitton bags and accessories, as well as more than US$97,000 in cash, were confiscated.

Hsiao’s accomplice, Tsao Pao-lin (曹保麟), a Taiwanese visa broker operating in Vietnam, was sentenced to 18 months for document forgery, commuted from the original penalty of two years in prison handed down in the first trial by the Taipei District Court.

The rulings can be appealed.

The commutations were made based on evidence that Hsiao was innocent of a forgery charge and that most of Tsao’s offenses occurred in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, which is outside Taiwan’s jurisdiction, the ruling said.

The prosecution said Hsiao was found to be colluding with Tsao to approve student visas for unqualified Vietnamese applicants seeking to study in Taiwan in exchange for cash.

Tsao was found to have counterfeited financial and Mandarin proficiency certificates for visa applicants.

During the investigation, prosecutors found that Hsiao had handled 27 student visa cases, in each case charging the schools a 10 percent fee — between NT$2,000 and NT$3,000 — as a brokerage fee.

Hsiao was also found to have used to cash to pay US$75,585 in rent in Vietnam from May 2010 to January 2013. He also purchased 83 Louis Vuitton luxury products at a total cost of 1.2 billion dong (US$52,800).

The prosecution said Hsiao failed to detail the sources of his finances, while his salary was his only verifiable source of income.

The scandal first came to light in 2014 and on Dec. 28 last year the Taipei District Court sentenced Hsiao to 12 years in prison on charges of profiteering and owning property of unknown origin — both violations of the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) — while sentencing Tsao to two years in jail for forgery.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) declined to comment on the case.

Hsiao, who was transferred back to Taipei after the ministry discovered abnormalities in the issuance of visas he processed in early 2013, remains a ministry employee, Wang said, adding that the ministry would not address the issue until the final ruling in the case.

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