Official sentenced to jail over bribes, hostess bars

STANDARD PRACTICE?:Officials were found guilty of accepting bribes from public contractors, and also nights at hostess bars that were paid for by the firms

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 4

An official from the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency has been found guilty of accepting bribes and sexual services at hostess bars, paid for by a public contractor, and was given a 12-and-a-half-year jail sentence by the New Taipei City District Court on Monday.

During the trial, Kuo Chien-chung (郭見忠) denied wrongdoing, saying: “It is very common in the construction industry for contractors to pay for drinking and sexual services at hostess bars.”

Kuo was the Public Works Division’s northern region engineering office section chief in New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重) and was tasked with supervising the construction of an elevated expressway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和).

BES Engineering Co (中華工程) won the expressway project with a tender of NT$2.8 billion (US$90.32 million), and began construction in March 2009, with the contract due to complete by April 25, 2012.

However, due to alleged substandard engineering and other factors leading to delays, the company’s performance was deemed substandard and liable for fines of at least NT$180 million.

To escape paying the fines, BES Engineering bribed Kuo and other agency supervisors, and also paid for sexual services during nights out at hostess bars, the court found.

According to the investigation, BES Engineering manager Tseng Jung-ta (曾榮達) treated Kuo, Construction and Planning Agency Taipei City Public Works Division supervisor Yu Chih-cheng (游志成) and another agency official, Lee Wen-cheng (李文程), numerous times to these sorts of nights out starting in March 2011.

Kuo was found to have gone on these BES Engineering “evening dining” events more than 15 times during a nine-month period.

Investigators said that the evenings would typically begin with dinner at an expensive restaurant, then an evening of drinking at the Venice nightclub on Taipei’s Linsen N Road, or other expensive hostess bars in the greater Taipei region.

Kuo and the other agency officials would then take one or two hostesses out for the night to a hotel, with the drinking and sexual services all paid for by BES Engineering.

Yu was handed an 11-and-a-half year prison sentence for receiving bribes and violating his public duty, Lee was given an 11-year-and-two-month term for the same offense; and Tseng was given a two-year-and-10-month sentence for offering bribes to public officials.

Eight other officials and employees of public contractors were also convicted in the case.

The ruling can be appealed.