Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Academic accused of embezzlement

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

A National Taiwan University of Science and Technology professor suspected of embezzling about NT$20 million (US$684,908) of research funds was released yesterday after posting NT$2 million bail.

Taipei prosecutors, supported by the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau, on Tuesday carried out raids at five locations, including National Taiwan University of Science and Technology Department of Civil and Construction Engineering professor Cheng Ming-yuan’s (鄭明淵) residence, and university offices and laboratories, to collect evidence.

Cheng was among 10 people summoned for questioning in connection with the case.

Prosecutors said there was sufficient evidence of fraud to press charges against Cheng in accordance with the Business Entity Accounting Act (商業會計法) and imposed travel restrictions to prevent him from fleeing the nation.

Two business owners, surnamed Huang (黃) and Feng (馮), who were contractors in Cheng’s government-funded research projects and had allegedly colluded with him embezzle funds, were released after questioning on bails of NT$500,000 and NT$300,000 respectively.

Cheng is being accused of falsifying receipts and forging accounting books to claim about NT$20 million in research grants and other funds from the Ministry of Science and Technology and from other agencies.

Prosecutors said they received a tip-off that Cheng had from 2006 until last year forced his students to set up shell accounts to claim extra funds granted to research assistants.

Cheng had a number of students he had hired as research assistants, and applied for projects under ministry supervision, with each assistant entitled to a monthly stipend of between NT$6,000 and NT$8,000.

However, prosecutors said the assistants only received between NT$4,000 and NT$5,000 per month, and there were irregularities and suspected forged receipts in expense claims submitted by Cheng.

One of the students allegedly had his bank account used by Cheng for his illegal gains.

The student told prosecutors that he was listed by Cheng as a research assistant in several ministry-funded projects and was also listed as a teaching assistant.

The student said he should have received NT$20,000 to NT$30,000 per month, but he was paid less than NT$10,000 per month while paying higher taxes due to the inflated wage claim.

Since 2003, Cheng has also received research funds from the Ministry of the Interior’s Architecture and Building Research Institute, the Institute of Transportation under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and other government agencies, in which accounting fraud might have taken place, prosecutors said.

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