Seventy-six National Security Bureau (NSB) personnel have been disciplined for their alleged involvement in a cigarette smuggling scandal, bureau Director-General Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said on Saturday.
Bureau personnel who were disciplined include those from the Presidential Office’s Department of Security Affairs, the Special Service Command Center, a special military police squad and other NSB units, he said.
Chiu said he meted out “heavy disciplinary measures,” such as demotions and transfers, to 20 personnel from the Yonghe Guard Unit, which is responsible for protecting the president’s official residence.
The highest-ranking officers to be punished were Major General Chen Yi-fu (陳逸夫), who was transferred from the guards to the Army Command Headquarters, and Colonel Yang Wen-chin (楊文津), who was transferred to the Navy Command Headquarters.
The Department of Security Affairs had the highest number of personnel embroiled in the scandal, Chiu said, adding that top NSB officials would supervise and provide guidance to the department.
Local Chinese-language media yesterday reported that some NSB personnel found the punishments unfair and said they were based on favoritism.
The bureau said in a statement that “the punishments were based on consideration of the officers’ rights, and meted out to uphold discipline and maintain regular security duties.”
“The punishments were meted out in stages to officers embroiled in the case. There was no favoritism involved as insinuated in some media reports,” it added.
The punishments follow an alleged attempt to smuggle 9,800 cartons of cigarettes worth NT$6 million (US$191,308) into Taiwan on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) July 22 return flight from a trip to Taiwan’s four diplomatic allies in the Caribbean.
NSB agents allegedly ordered the cigarettes from China Airlines’ 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, prosecutors say.
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.
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