Fri, Aug 02, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Eighty people questioned in smuggling probe

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Taiwan No Smoking Alliance hold signs at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Eighty people have been questioned so far as part of the probe into cigarette smuggling by National Security Bureau (NSB) personnel, including airline executives, bureau officials and airport customs officers, while four more China Airlines (CAL) files on duty-free cigarettes purchased on presidential flights dating back to 2005, have been recovered, investigators said yesterday.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, along with Investigation Bureau’s New Taipei City section yesterday summoned former CAL senior vice president Lo Ya-mei (羅雅美) and former chartered flight division vice president Chiu Chang-hsin (邱彰信) for questioning.

Eight CAL officials and other employees, including those working in the In-Flight Service Supply Division, have been questioned in recent days, including two female managers, surnamed Tung (董) and Huang (黃), who allegedly had made large preorders of duty-free cigarettes, cosmetics and luxury goods.

Investigation efforts are focusing on details of the preorder process and payment arrangement, prosecutors said.

NSB officers Wu Tsung-hsien (吳宗憲) and Chang Heng-chia (張恒嘉), the two main suspects in the case, remain in detention with restricted communications, prosecutors said.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday said that CAL recovered four more files from presidential overseas visits, with one dating back to 2005, during then-president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) second term.

CAL had previously provided investigators with 26 files showing that preorder purchases by those on presidential trips going back to 2006 totaled more than 40,000 cartons of cigarettes.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said she would accept responsibility for the wrongdoing of subordinate officials, and former presidents should do so for orders placed during their terms in office.

“This scandal has been the accumulation of many years of violations and misdeeds. No matter which government was in charge from the beginning, the nation’s top leader must shoulder the responsibility, therefore we will see that the judiciary determines which government officials were involved,” Tsai told reporters.

“From the start to the finish, I have chosen not to hide from the case, nor to protect anyone embroiled in it. I urge everyone to fully cooperate with the judicial investigation, and our internal investigation will also provide materials to the judiciary to assist in its investigation,” Tsai said.

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