Prosecutors have closed the first phase of judicial proceedings in a duty-free cigarette scandal from last year, in which 77 people charged received deferred prosecutions.
Ahead of official state visits to the Caribbean by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in July last year, National Security Bureau (NSB) officials took advantage of streamlined customs clearance to order duty-free cigarettes before the trip, most of which were stored in a warehouse at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport belonging to China Pacific Catering Services, a firm affiliated with China Airlines.
The Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office yesterday upheld the “deferred prosecution” verdict for a third group of suspects handed down last month by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, as all those who were indicted had admitted to wrongdoing.
The highest-ranking official among those charged was NSB Major General Chen Yi-fu (陳逸夫), who headed the security teams responsible for the personal safety of the president and vice president at their official residences, the Presidential Office Building and when traveling on official functions.
For buying 40 cartons of duty-free cigarettes, prosecutors ordered Chen to pay NT$25,000 to the national treasury and to attend six hours of legal education classes.
The other 76 people charged were mostly NSB and military personnel involved in security duties, together with their family members and friends.
For profiting by circumventing paying tax on the cigarettes, they were ordered to pay fines ranging from NT$5,000 to NT$200,000 depending on the number of cartons purchased.
The deferred prosecution does not include a separate group of 13 defendants who are said to have played the principal roles in the scandal.
They have been indicted for corruption and tax evasion for contravening the Tax Collection Act (稅捐稽徵法) and the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例).
Two high-ranking NSB officers — Wu Tsung-hsien (吳宗憲) and Chang Heng-chia (張恒嘉) — are among that group, as well as former China Airlines chartered flight division vice president Chiu Chang-hsin (邱彰信), two managers at the airline, and three staff at the airline’s in-flight service supply division.
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