Sat, Aug 03, 2019 - Page 3 News List

National Security Bureau head vows ‘no limit’ to cigarette smuggling probe

By Aaron Tu  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

National Security Bureau Director-General Chiu Kuo-cheng speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Sam Yeh / AFP

“There will be no limit” to the investigation of alleged duty-free cigarette smuggling that has implicated National Security Bureau (NSB) officials, bureau Director-General Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday.

Chiu made the remark at a news conference yesterday afternoon.

Chiu was named by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as the new head of the agency after his predecessor, Peng Sheng-chu (彭勝竹), resigned last month over the scandal.

Chiu said that he would definitely take firm action regarding the case.

Disciplinary measures would be taken against any who are found to be involved or those found to have had knowledge of the matter, but did not take steps to stop it, he said.

There is no time frame to conclude the probe, he said, calling on the public to give the agency time and space to investigate.

He would brief the public regarding its findings when the time is right, he said.

On July 22, 9,800 cartons of cigarettes worth NT$6 million (US$191,229) were allegedly brought into Taiwan under the cover of Tsai’s return from a trip to Taiwan’s four diplomatic allies in the Caribbean. NSB security agents allegedly ordered the cigarettes from China Airlines’ (CAL) online duty-free store on July 8, three days before Tsai embarked on the trip, and they were put into storage at an airport warehouse owned by China Pacific Catering Services Ltd.

Shortly before the flight landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the cigarettes were removed and loaded into five government vehicles, which later attempted to leave the airport as part of Tsai’s motorcade.

Acting on a tip-off, customs officers intercepted the vehicles in the airport’s rapid clearance lane at 1:25pm. Two NSB agents were taken into custody the following day.

Prosecutors have since expanded the scope of the investigation, saying that others might have preordered duty-free goods in amounts exceeding legal limits during Tsai’s trip.

They have questioned more than 10 CAL employees in charge of offering preorder services for duty-free products.

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