The Taoyuan District Court on Wednesday found Sun Yi-ming (孫一鳴), former head of the Aviation Police Bureau’s aviation security section, guilty of corruption.
Sun, who was arrested in 2016, was sentenced to 17 years and six months in prison for receiving kickbacks and engaging in other illicit activities relating to a NT$70 million (US$2.31 million at the current exchange rate) contract to procure X-ray scanners, which were supplied by Chinese company Nuctech.
The main contractor in the case, Han Yuan Co owner Tsai Yi-jen (蔡依仁), was also found guilty of colluding with Sun and received a five-year and eight-month sentence.
An investigation found that Nuctech had sent a 30-something female sales manager, Li Weilin (李委霖), to lure Sun into a honeytrap and obtain information about the procurement project.
Experts said the case reeked of a Chinese intelligence operation, with an eye to penetrating Taiwan’s airport and border security, as Nuctech is known to be one of China’s “princeling companies” with strong political and business connections in Beijing.
Media reports have said that Hu Haifong (胡海峰), son of former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), was a former chairman of Nuctech, and that the company enjoys a close relationship with the Chinese military establishment and government agencies.
It is reportedly one of the few manufacturers of X-ray machines to obtain approval and certification by China’s civil aviation authority for installation at airports.
When prosecutors launched an investigation into case, questions were raised that the X-ray scanners might have embedded programs that send data and scanned images to China, threatening national security.
Local media reports said that at least four Nuctech X-ray scanners installed in 2014 were still being used at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, and several more are in other airports in the nation.
After their initial installation, airport security officials took to calling them “blind X-ray scanners,” because they compared poorly in terms of standard and performance with international brands, were prone to breakdowns and frequently unable to detect restricted items, media reports said.
Reports said that the US Department of Homeland Security had officially informed Taiwan that goods checked by the Nuctech scanners would not be allowed on flights to the US.
The investigation found that Sun received NT$3.06 million from Nuctech to approve the procurement, and that despite being married, he met frequently with Li for sex since 2013.
Li accompanied Sun on holiday trips to Singapore, the UK and various Chinese cities over the years, and a search of Sun’s residence found USB memory sticks containing sex tapes they had made during their travels, investigators said.
Sun colluded with Nuctech by working to have parts shipped for assembly and repackaging in Japan to deceive Taiwanese regulators, who were led to believe the scanners were made in Japan, bypassing a ban on Chinese-made products in procurements of high-tech machines used for national security, investigators said.
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