Taipei prosecutors have expanded the scope of an investigation into a group of government employees who allegedly joined a scheme to take advantage of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) most recent official state visit to Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Caribbean to purchase duty-free cigarettes and other goods.
Wu Tsung-hsien (吳宗憲) and Chang Heng-chia (張恒嘉), two officers on the National Security Bureau’s presidential security unit, have reportedly agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
Wu and Chang were on Tuesday detained with restricted communications. Pundits at the time speculated that the two had a leading role in the scandal.
However, prosecutors yesterday said that the evidence and a list of 50 names provided by Wu show that the two were turned into “scapegoats,” as they were apparently following the orders of high-ranking officials at the bureau and other government agencies.
Wu and Chang were instructed to circulate a group order form to the people on the list to enable them to buy duty-free cigarettes and other foreign goods, including brand-name handbags, cosmetics and other luxury items, prosecutors said.
The items could bypass customs clearance at the airport due to privileges granted to security personnel and staff on the president’s entourage for overseas trips, they said.
It was the third time Wu and Chang received such orders during Tsai’s time in office, prosecutors said, adding that similar “group orders” were carried out by the inner circle of officials and staffers since at least the time in office of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), whose first overseas visit was in January 2014.
Investigators would next summon for questioning the 50 people on the list, which consists of officials and staff at the bureau, the National Security Council and the Presidential Office, as well as two female China Airlines ground crew supervisors and the wives of top officials at other government agencies, said a source at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Wu has been cooperative during questioning and agreed to provide further evidence in exchange for a reduced sentence, as he faces severe penalties if convicted for alleged breaches of the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) and the Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act (菸酒管理法), the source said.
As of press time last night, the total number of cigarette cartons seized as evidence rose to 10,000, as prosecutors have added 200 cartons ordered by officials onboard the presidential plane to the 9,800 cartons that were stored at a China Airlines facility at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
China appears to have built mockups of a port in northeastern Taiwan and a military vessel docked there, with the aim of using them as targets to test its ballistic missiles, a retired naval officer said yesterday. Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩), a former lieutenant commander in Taiwan’s navy, wrote on Facebook that satellite images appeared to show simulated targets in a desert in China’s Xinjiang region that resemble the Suao naval base in Yilan County and a Kidd-class destroyer that usually docks there. Lu said he compared the mockup port to US naval bases in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan, and in Subic Bay
Police are investigating the death of a Formosan black bear discovered on Tuesday buried near an industrial road in Nantou County, with initial evidence indicating that it was shot accidentally by a hunter. The bear had been caught in wildlife traps at least five times before, three times since 2020. Codenamed No. 711, the bear received extensive media coverage last year after it was discovered trapped twice in less than two months in the Taichung mountains. After its most recent ensnarement last month, the bear was released in the Dandashan (丹大山) area in Nantou County’s Sinyi Township (信義). However, officials became concerned after the
DETERRENCE: US National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell said cross-strait affairs are on the agenda at the US-ASEAN Special Leaders’ Summit The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday thanked the Czech Senate for passing a resolution supporting Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO and other international organizations for the second consecutive year. The resolution was passed on Wednesday with 51 votes in favor, one opposed and 11 abstentions. In addition to the WHO, it also called for Taiwan’s participation in the “meetings, mechanisms and activities” of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Civil Aviation Organization and Interpol. In its opening, the resolution states that the Czech Republic “considers Taiwan as one of its key partners in the Indo-Pacific region,” while noting its
About 300 members of the Pilots Union Taoyuan and their families yesterday rallied outside the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taipei to protest against not being allowed to take COVID-19 rapid tests instead of undergoing home quarantine. The CECC on April 27 announced a shortened quarantine period for Taiwan-based airline crew members. The new policy applies to crew members who have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior and requires them to undergo four days of quarantine followed by four days of self-health management for those returning from long-haul flights, and five days of