Thu, May 10, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Whistle-blower cleared of corruption charges

TECHNICALITY:The court found that Wang Yu-sheng received money for facilitating a land sale, but added that it had no legal grounds to rule it as bribe-taking

By Yang Kuo-wen and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Taiwan High Court yesterday acquitted whistle-blower and former public servant Wang Yu-sheng (王玉升) of corruption charges on a technicality.

The High Court overturned the Shilin District Court’s guilty verdict last year sentencing Wang to 13 years in prison. It was Wang’s second trial.

Prosecutors assigned to the case may file an appeal.

Wang, who was a public service inspector at New Taipei City’s Sijhih District (汐止) Office, in 2008 blew the whistle on then-Sijhih mayor Huang Chien-chin (黃建清) for taking bribes and reported him to the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

She was at the time lionized by the local media and the public.

Huang allegedly took NT$7 million (US$233,895 at the current exchange rate) in bribes from Tsai Hung-sheng (蔡宏昇), head of the Ancestor Worship Guild of Baoyi Daifu, to facilitate the sale of guild-owned properties.

Tsai needed Huang’s services, because according to law, the guild is a deity worship association instead of an ancestor worship guild, which made it difficult for Tsai to sell guild-owned lands, valued at about NT$100 million, Shilin prosecutors said.

The Taiwan High Court found Huang guilty of corruption and sentenced him to 11 years and six months in prison. The verdict was not final, as the case is still being litigated at the Supreme Court.

However, prosecutors later also accused Wang of corruption in connection to the same case.

In 2013, after her reinstatement as an inspector at the office, Wang introduced real-estate broker Lee Chang-yu (李昌諭) to Tsai, enabling the guild’s sale of 21 properties to an innocent third party for NT$615 million, the Taiwan High Court said.

Tsai gave NT$40.4 million from the proceeds to Wang and Lee, of which Wang received NT$16.95 million, the court said.

While Wang has denied that the money was a kickback for her role in the land deal, the multiple changes she made to her story indicate that her testimony has no credibility, it said.

Nevertheless, the court discovered that Huang’s decision in 2009 to reclassify Tsai’s guild as an ancestor worship guild was never invalidated, because Huang is still awaiting his third trial and the two-year window for rescinding the decision had expired, it said.

Wang had duly requested that the authorities sign off on the land deal, which the record shows to have occurred in June 2013, the court said.

As a result, the court has no legal ground to rule Wang’s, Lee’s and Tsai’s actions as bribe-taking or bribe-giving under the Criminal Code, leaving the court with no recourse but to acquit the three, it said.

However, Wang has breached the Public Functionary Service Act (公務員服務法) by helping Tsai to write letters of authorization connected to the land deal and introducing him to Lee when she was the official in charge of evaluating his application, the court said.

However, prosecutorial authorities are seeking to indict Wang with new charges under the Civil Servant Work Act (公務員服務法), since she had improperly provided assistance to Tsai in the land deal, the court said.

The Shilin District Court had previously sentenced Tsai and Lee to six years and 12 years and six months in prison respectively.

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