Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

MOI officials summoned over corruption probe

SECURITY BREACHA government tender to upgrade border control systems was given to a firm suspected of using equipment supplied by Chinese firms, a lawmaker said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

An agent takes accused Wang Kun, left, to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday to face questioning regarding alleged leaks on confidential information from the Ministry of the Interior’s Information Center.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Judicial investigators on Monday conducted raids and summoned Ministry of the Interior (MOI) officials in a probe into suspected bribery and bid rigging of government projects, as well as allegations of a security breach in which Chinese companies might have gained access to personal information of Taiwanese.

In an operation jointly conducted by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption, searches were carried out and 41 people were detained for questioning, mostly officials from the MOI Information Center and the National Immigration Agency (NIA), along with contractors.

Those summoned for questioning included two alleged main figures in the case: MOI Information Center Director Shih Ming-te (施明德), who formerly headed the NIA’s Information Division, and former NIA section chief Chen Ying-chieh (陳英傑).

Of the people brought in for questioning, 17 were listed as suspects and 24 had been questioned as witnesses as of yesterday, prosecutors said.

Shih and Chen were yesterday released after posting bail of NT$1 million (US$33,135) and NT$300,000 respectively.

Nine people from computer system contractors were also released after posting bail.

Other government officials who were listed as suspects were released without bail, including MOI Information Center Deputy Director Yen Wen-chang (嚴文常) and NIA section chief Chang Yi-chang (張益彰).

Shih, when heading the NIA’s Information Division between 2006 and 2009, was in charge of more than a dozen government tenders for upgrading computers and installing digital information processing systems.

Prosecutors said they put Shih and other officials under surveillance after receiving tip-offs concerning corruption, bribery, bid rigging and questionable financial transactions at MOI agencies.

Shih allegedly colluded with other MOI officials in receiving money and other financial benefits from contractors in exchange for leaking information about government tenders.

Shih also allegedly engaged in bid rigging by catering the terms and specifications of government procurement projects to the contractors.

The most prominent case involved a bid in 2009 to install new computer systems that process the personal identification data of passengers entering and leaving the nation at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, with Shih handling the procurement as MOI Information Center director.

Shih allegedly took bribes in exchange for awarding the bid to a company that installed digital electronics and communications equipment supplied by Chinese subcontractors, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

“If this is the case, then our nation’s border controls were opened to access by foreign companies. This is a very serious breach of national security,” he said.

“The personal data of entry and exit passengers contained classified information, such as top government officials, and regular citizens, as well as criminals who were under surveillance,” Chen Chi-mai added.

DPP Legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) demanded that the National Security Bureau launch a probe into the allegations.

“This is not any regular case of corruption by government officials to reap financial benefit. If the contractors have Chinese companies or criminal syndicates behind them, then it means our border controls and the personal information of our citizens have been thoroughly penetrated,” Lai said.

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