Taipei prosecutors late on Wednesday night searched at National Security Bureau (NSB) housing units at President Tsai Ing-wei’s (蔡英文) official residence as part of a widening investigation into a cigarette-smuggling scandal.
The search was of personal items of Wu Tsung-hsien (吳宗憲) and Chang Heng-chia (張恒嘉), the two NSB officers listed as suspects in the case who have been detained with restricted communications.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said it had notified Presidential Office officials that it wanted to search the dormitories of Wu and Chang at the compound on Chongqing S Road in Taipei.
“Prosecutors in charge of the probe were accompanied by officials of the Presidential Office’s Ethics Department during the search of the dormitories of the two defendants, and gathered their personal belongings,” the prosecutors’ office said in a statement.
“No search of the president’s official residence was conducted,” the statement said, in what was seen as a rebuke to the Chinese-language China Times, which had headlined a story: “Presidential Office dispatched trucks to smuggle cigarettes, president’s residence becomes a goods distribution center.”
The Presidential Office also issued a statement rebutting the newspaper story.
“The report deliberately attempted to confuse the public on the housing of security personnel inside the compound and the president’s official residence,” the statement said. “We strongly protest the false accusation that the president’s residence has become a goods distribution center.”
“From the start, President Tsai ordered all government agencies to cooperate with the judicial probe into the case ... and instructed all agencies not to cover up or shield anyone involved. We hope the judiciary will conduct a thorough investigation and not let any implicated person off the hook,” the statement added.
During their search, prosecutors reportedly gathered receipts and other documents related to a “group order” that Wu had allegedly told investigators about, looking to verify who purchased what and how much was paid.
Prosecutors yesterday questioned China Airlines employee Huang Chuan-chen (黃川禎), who reportedly handled duty-free purchases for people accompanying Tsai on her recent state visit to four Caribbean allies.
Huang allegedly dealt with the suspects in the case and helped them bypass regular customs clearance.
He was released on NT$200,000 bail.
He did not answer reporters’ questions as he departed the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office.
Huang reportedly only started his job overseeing duty-free purchases a few weeks ago.
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