The Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office has charged five former Soil and Water Conservation Bureau officials and nine businesspeople for allegedly accepting bribes and visits from prostitutes during the bidding process for a government project.
The indictment issued on March 16 says that Yang Yen-shan (楊燕山), former secretary-general of the bureau’s Taichung branch, and former officials from the branch’s governance, engineering and promotional divisions committed the alleged crimes while working on a watershed management project between March 2019 and June last year.
During the bidding process, Yang and the other officials are alleged to have traveled to 11 hotels and KTV halls in Taichung and Yilan, where they allegedly were supplied with escorts and had expenses of more than NT$250,000 covered by the nine prospective contractors.
Yang is separately alleged to have accepted the services of prostitutes five times during various stages of the project.
Lin Yung-chou (林勇州), who led the branch’s governance division, is suspected of taking more than NT$470,000 in bribes from a contractor surnamed Lo (羅), and of using the bank account of Lo’s wife to conceal illicit sums totaling at least NT$1.66 million, prosecutors said.
Meanwhile, Yang and two other officials from the bureau’s engineering division fraudulently claimed travel expenses for hotel stays that were paid for by the contractors, prosecutors said.
After receiving a tip-off, the prosecutors’ office said that it opened a joint probe with the Investigation Bureau and the Agency Against Corruption, and on Sept. 3 last year they searched 52 locations and interrogated more than 50 people.
Altogether, Yang and his deputies are alleged to have accepted bribes in 18 of the 64 construction projects they oversaw as part of the project.
Prosecutors said Yang has admitted to wrongdoing, but said that he only accepted the favors “passively” at the contractors’ insistence.
Lin has denied receiving illicit benefits, saying that he has social relationships with the contractors and had also paid for their expenses at different gatherings.
Prosecutors charged the 14 suspects with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) on suspicion of forgery and abuse of a public position for personal gain.
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