The Taitung County District Court yesterday sentenced former Dawu Township (大武) mayor Chao Hung-han (趙宏翰) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on corruption charges, handing him a three-year, seven-month prison term.
Chao was mayor from 2015 to last year, during which time he received kickbacks from contractors totaling about NT$2.01 million (US$64,306) in breach of the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例), the court said in its ruling.
After Taitung prosecutors and the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption launched an investigation in August 2017, law enforcement units raided 12 locations and questioned 20 people.
Prosecutors listed Chao and Chen Wen-cheng (陳文政), head of the township office’s construction section, and five others as suspects in the case.
Chen was also convicted on corruption charges, although the court did not announce a sentence.
It was the first ruling on the case and can still be appealed.
Investigations found that contractors were headed by business associates of Chao surnamed Hsu (許), Ruan (阮) and Pai (白).
Chao helped them secure public projects through bid rigging, and by borrowing business permits and licenses from separate companies, investigators said.
Elsewhere, New Taipei City Councilor Kao Min-hui (高敏慧) of the Democratic Progressive Party was detained with restricted communications as a judicial probe was under way over alleged theft of government funds meant to pay office assistants.
New Taipei City prosecutors conducted searches on Friday and detained 11 people for questioning. While Kao and a female assistant surnamed Huang (黃) remained in detention, three other suspects were released after posting bail of NT$50,000 to NT$100,000.
Kao, who has held office for six consecutive terms, was accused of forging documents and wage slips, and using bank accounts of family members to pocket funds earmarked to pay office assistant salaries.
New Taipei City Government regulations stipulate a monthly maximum of NT$260,000 to pay office assistants for councilors, with each office usually having three to eight earning at most about NT$80,000 per month.
Kao on Friday told reporters that she had been framed and that the case was based on unsubstantiated accusations by political opponents.
“It is because I announced that I would enter the race and was seeking an executive position on the Shulin District Farmers’ Association,” she said. “I am innocent of the charges, but my political opponents last month began circulating fabricated information about subsidies for office assistants.”
“We are confident that my assistant and I will be acquitted of the charges,” she said.
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