Fri, Apr 12, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Eight listed as suspects in probe of sports corruption

OUT ON BAIL:CTOC vice chairman Tsai Szu-chueh and CTASA deputy secretary-general Pi Chun-hui were released after being questioned by Taipei prosecutors

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Taipei Amateur Softball Association deputy secretary-general Pi Chun-hui, right, accompanied by a Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau officer, walks outside the bureau’s offices in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Li-chung, Taipei Times

Several members of the Chinese Taipei Amateur Softball Association (CTASA) and a senior member of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) yesterday were listed as suspects in a corruption probe, after Taipei prosecutors together with Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau agents on Wednesday searched several locations in Taipei and Kaohsiung, including the CTASA’s office, Winner Express Travel Co and residences.

They are suspected of rigging bids, filing fraudulent expense claims and submitting forged receipts for athlete training programs in the US to enrich themselves.

The investigation is focused on CTASA’s travel program for the softball team’s training in the US last year, which involved government funding of NT$3.47 million (US$112,421 at the current exchange rate) through the public tender process to cover travel, food, accommodation and other expenses.

After being summoned for questioning as suspects by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, CTOT vice chairman Tsai Szu-chueh (蔡賜爵) and CTASA deputy secretary-general Pi Chun-hui (畢鈞輝) were yesterday released on bail of NT$200,000 and NT$300,000 respectively.

Six others from the association and travel company were also listed as suspects in the investigation.

Pi and others allegedly colluded to ensure that Winner Express Travel won the contract and then, by producing fake receipts, and pocketed at least NT$700,000, prosecutors said.

Winner Express Travel has been owned by Tsai and his family since 1992.

Critics have long alleged that Tsai used his CTOC position and his political connections to monopolize many publicly funded projects and government contracts for athletes and sports programs.

A 2013 report by the Control Yuan found that Winner Express Travel was often the only bidder on public tenders for foreign travel by sports officials and teams to training camps or international competitions, raising questions about bid rigging and influence peddling.

Following the Control Yuan report, the Sports Administration asked Tsai to make changes, but Tsai’s simply reregistered the agency in the name of his son, Tsai Yi-fan (蔡逸凡).

Prosecutors said that since 2015, Winner Express Travel had secured several procurement and foreign travel contracts for softball teams, including sending the national squad to the 2015 Women’s Softball World Cup and to training camps in Canada and the US in 2017.

Over the past decade, the company has arranged travel and accommodation for softball and baseball teams from elementary to high-school levels nationwide for international competitions and training camps, paid for by government contracts, officials said.

New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), who has been calling for the nation’s sports bodies to clean up their act and root out institutional corruption, yesterday condemned Tsai in a Facebook post, mentioning run-ins and disputes between Tsai and several athletes, including Taiwan’s top female tennis player Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇) ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“You [Tsai] had asked athletes not to complain when competing for the nation’s honor, but you can engage in corruption for money? You are garbage,” the legislator wrote in the post.

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