The Yilan District Court yesterday handed down fines and suspended sentences to 41 people who obtained driver’s licenses through bribery and falsified exams.
The case centered on the owners of Lon Der Driving School (龍德駕訓班), which had branches in Yilan County and Taipei, and a Yilan Motor Vehicles Office official surnamed Yeh (葉), who accepted bribes, prosecutors said.
The investigation found that 17 people paid the driving school bribes to obtain their driver’s license, police said, adding that the licenses have all been voided.
All 41 defendants pleaded guilty and reached a settlement, prosecutors said, adding that the defendants do not have to serve jail time.
Yeh was found guilty of leaking classified information not relating to national security and was given a suspended sentence and a fine of NT$150,000, as well as a second fine of NT$50,000 to benefit local social welfare programs.
Investigations said that the leading figures in the scandal were Lee Hung-tao (李泓道), 68, and Chen Shih-tang (陳錫鏜), 66, who were the owners of the school’s Yilan and Taipei branches respectively.
Prosecutors said the 17 people involved each paid between NT$50,000 and NT$60,000 for experienced drivers to impersonate them and take their driving tests using fraudulent identity papers.
Those who paid for illegal licenses were either illiterate or had a low education level, or were foreigners married to Taiwanese and who could not read Chinese, prosecutors said.
Lee and Chen bribed Yeh to register the driving tests at the Yilan Motor Vehicle Office, and then had contractors produce forged documents by replacing the photographs and other information on identity documents with those of the impersonators, prosecutors said.
Lee and his staff were handed suspended sentences and fines between NT$80,000 and NT$400,000.
Chen and most of the impersonators were given suspended sentences and fines between NT$100,000 and NT$300,000.
The case came to the attention of police when discrepancies in signatures were discovered and when license holders were questioned, but were unable to say where they took their driving tests or what their scores were.
Video footage from driving test centers showed that the test takers were different from those people receiving the driver’s licenses.
Netizens said the ruling was too lenient and that identity fraud and bribe-taking by civil servants are serious offenses and therefore those found guilty should be handed prison terms, not fines.
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