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21 charged in Kaohsiung customs graft case
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-28 02:45 PM
The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office reported Wednesday that a total of 21 persons have been charged in a bribery case involving the Kaohsiung Customs Office, the fourth wave of indictments to stem from an ongoing investigation into graft in the customs operation. Of the 21 indicted, 11 pleaded guilty to the charges and won recommendations from the prosecution for probation. Nine others denied having taken bribes and showed no remorse in the case, and could face prison terms.

Prosecutors said the bribery scheme was initiated so that customs inspectors would let containers of imported goods pass through without opening them up for inspection, thereby allowing the goods to be delivered to retailers as quickly as possible. Set up in December 2008 at Pier 116 in Kaohsiung Harbor, the fee in each shipment ranged from NT$4000 to NT$8000 per customs slip or NT$3000 to NT$10,000 per container.

The bribery fees as well as payments of NT$400 to NT$800 to the leaders and supervisors of unloading teams were placed in the document pouch handed to customs inspection officers together with import declarations. After deducting 50 to 60% from each bribery payment as their take, inspectors delivered the remaining 40 to 50% in monthly payments to the Customs Office section chief and shift supervisor.

Prosecutors estimate the total payment of bribes since the investigations was launched in April 2013 at some NT$4.856 million. .

The prosecutors office noted that 11 of those charged in the case surrendered some NT$2 million to officials as an expression of remorse. Some of the defendants are suspected of having netted less than NT$50,000, and prosecutors took the scope of their crime as well as the “collective atmosphere of bribery” in the customs office into account in recommending lighter sentences for the group including probation and a program of rehabilitation.

For the rest of the defendants, prosecutors have recommended the harshest sentences applicable. Those involved in the bribery scheme have seriously damaged the image of customs operations, affected national fiscal revenue and even affected Taiwan’s international image in importing and exporting goods, said prosecutors in asking for sentences ranging from eight to 30 years for the defendants.

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