Wed, Sep 13, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Playground accident leads to couple’s indictments

By Cheng Shu-ting and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A couple who worked for the New Taipei City Fire Department were indicted on Monday for contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) and the Criminal Code by allegedly using department resources to threaten McDonald’s Taiwan after their son was injured in a playground accident at one of the company’s outlets.

A 36-year-old man surnamed Tsai (蔡) and his 39-year-old wife, surnamed Huang (黃), allegedly accessed the national database for firefighting equipment after their five-year-old son fractured a shoulder bone on March 30 while playing in the playground at McDonald’s Yumin outlet in New Taipei City’s Tucheng District (土城), the indictment said.

The couple met with lawyers for the company on May 8, May 12, June 7 and June 28, after which they allegedly threatened to tell the government about “safety flaws” in playground equipment at 300 branches of McDonald’s Taiwan nationwide unless they received NT$70 million (US$2.33 million), prosecutors said.

According to the investigation, Tsai threatened to report safety flaws to the public security investigation division established by New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou Yu-yi (侯友宜) in 2011.

He allegedly said the division was “looking forward to new missions” as its current investigation into the so-called “eight industries” was wrapping up, prosecutors said.

The eight industries include dance clubs, bars, clubs, coffee shops, KTVs, hair styling salons and saunas, which have long been associated with illegal prostitution or other illicit activities.

The couple sent e-mails to the New Taipei City mayor’s official e-mail account to “report” the safety risks at several McDonald’s outlets, and submitted a report on the high risk of children’s playgrounds in McDonald’s to the Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation, prosecutors said.

Several branches soon received requests from the fire department for equipment checks.

Huang allegedly logged into the department’s database to obtain information on the safety checks, and Tsai would then telephone the inspection team to make another check-up at the same outlet, prosecutors said.

Tsai and Huang were found to be in debt after failed investments, in addition to paying for the long-term rental of their home and the costs of raising three children, prosecutors said.

Tsai reporteldy told investigators that the amount of money the couple had asked from McDonald’s had been based on careful calculations because he wanted the case to be an example of an average citizen seeking corporate compensation.

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