Judiciary investigators yesterday conducted raids in a probe involving Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and allegations of collusion, bid-rigging and kickbacks, with 21 being brought in as suspects, two of whom were detained.
Investigators have “solid evidence” of illegal financial dealings and personal profiteering, Taoyuan Deputy Chief Prosecutor Yang Ting-hong (楊挺宏) said, adding that the suspects face charges of contravening the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法), the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) and other criminal offenses.
The case centers on the expansion of Terminal 2 and the construction projects for the needed runways, lighting and utilities. The expansion totaled NT$4 billion (US$127.38 million at the current exchange rate), while the terminal building cost NT$2.297 billion.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
Construction started in December 2015, although the projects were conducted in phases, with the main section of the expanded terminal opening in 2017.
Delays have pushed back the core project’s completion date from 2017 to January next year, according to facility operator Taoyuan International Airport Corp (TIAC, 桃園國際機場公司), which is wholly owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
In Tuesday’s raid, one of the largest in recent years, the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office coordinated more than 100 police officers and investigators who gathered evidence at airport construction sites, TIAC offices and five construction companies — a total of 27 locations in Taipei, Taoyuan, Miaoli and Taichung.
There is evidence that some TIAC officials received kickbacks from contractors, prosecutors said.
The biggest kickback was NT$6 million on one project and allegedly involved TIAC engineering department head Lin Wen-chen (林文楨), 58, and a TIAC engineer, surnamed Wu (吳), 45, the prosecutors said.
Lin and Wu are believed to have played leading roles, as both were detained yesterday.
After questioning, the other 19 suspects — including another TIAC engineer, surnamed Lee (李), and TIAC officials, as well as executives and staff of five construction companies — were released after posting bail of NT$20,000 to NT$300,000.
Prosecutors said that Lin and Wu, along with the TIAC officials, leaked the details of tender projects and helped contractors rig their bids in exchange for kickbacks of more than NT$30 million — although some reports have said that the amount was more than NT$100 million.
The suspected construction companies include CECI Engineering Consultants (台灣世曦公司), a subsidiary of China Engineering Consultants Inc (CECI, 中華顧問工程司), a government foundation under ministry management; CTCI Smart Engineering Corp (益鼎工程), part of CTCI Corporation (中鼎工程); and New Asia Co (新亞建設).
Surveillance began in 2017 after leaking roofs, flooding and burst toilet pipes plagued the newly opened Terminal 2 and investigators got tip-offs from TIAC staff about engineering shortcuts and the use of inferior construction materials, Yang said.
There were also tip-offs about contractors giving officials kickbacks in exchange for rigged bids and other financial irregularities on runway projects, the terminal building, and the water and electrical works, he said.
Asked about the case, New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said: “No wonder Taiwan’s gateway to the world is dubbed an international joke, filled with shoddy construction, and the runways are worse than those in some third world countries.
“Can one head engineer really devour the whole amount — kickbacks of more than NT$100 million?” he asked.
TIAC said that it would cooperate fully with prosecutors and investigators.
The company’s legal and government ethics departments were ready to assist investigators in reviewing the bids and projects involved in the case, it said.
TIAC would scrutinize current projects and those being planned to ensure that everything is legal, it said, adding that Lin has been reassigned to a non-managerial position and that two other TIAC employees were transferred to other departments.
It said that its government ethics department plans to launch an awareness campaign to remind employees that they need to follow regulations in handling government procurement projects, complying with anti-corruption guidelines set by the Ministry of Justice.
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan
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