A former assistant researcher at the National Palace Museum in Taipei has been dismissed from his job by the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Committee after he was found guilty of receiving bribes and illegally reproducing important treasures at the museum.
The committee’s decision, released on Sunday, concluded that Chen Yao-tung (陳耀東) had damaged the public’s good impression of civil servants and had to be relieved of his job.
Chen cannot return to work at the museum for at least three years.
An assistant researcher at the museum, Chen in 2009 made illegal digital reproductions of a number of historic manuscripts and items, which are deemed to be among the most important treasures at the museum.
A judicial probe found that Chen, along with Yeh Li-chen (葉麗珍), a project assistant working at the museum who was also a civil servant, had colluded with contractors to make illegal digital reproductions of the Tibetan Dragon Sutra, the Yongle Canon — a Chinese encyclopedia compiled in the 1400s during the Ming Dynasty — and other national treasures.
Chen and Yeh were among the researchers and staff working on the museum’s Digital Archives Project, which began in 2001.
The investigation found that one contractor could not complete its bid on time and gave a NT$500,000 bribe to Chen, as he was in charge of the Digital Archives Project for the Tibetan Dragon Sutra.
Investigators found that the company then gave an additional NT$200,000 bribe to both Chen and Yeh.
A Hong Kong company obtained the contract for the digital reproduction of the Yongle Canon, and Chen and Yeh made an illegal digital reproduction of the encyclopedia, which they filed at a company under Chen’s control, as they used various ways to evade the scrutiny of the museum’s top management.
After the judicial probe, both Chen and Yeh were indicted and in 2017 found guilty of corruption for receiving the bribes. The Taipei District Court handed Chen a nine-year prison sentence and deprived him of his civil rights for three years.
The ruling noted that Yeh had admitted guilt and had returned all her illegal proceeds.
The court handed her a five-year suspended prison sentence and deprived Yeh of her civil rights for two years.
Chen has filed an appeal with the Taiwan High Court.
After Chen was found guilty, the museum filed a case with the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Committee, citing the serious nature of the charges as undermining public perception of civil servants.
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