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Taiwan opens anti-corruption agency

2011/07/20 19:04:33

Taipei, July 20 (CNA) Taiwan established an anti-corruption agency Wednesday as part of the government's efforts to fight corruption among government officials.

President Ma Ying-jeou said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Agency against Corruption (AAC) that "prevention is better than cure," noting that part of the agency's work will be to prevent corruption.

The AAC, which falls under Ministry of Justice (MOJ) jurisdiction, is aimed at reducing corruption, raising conviction rates for corrupt officials and protecting human rights.

ACC Director General Chou Chih-jung also attended the opening ceremony. Formerly a counselor at the MOJ, Chou has a reputation of being clear-headed and he has wide expertise in fighting financial crime.

Chou said the 180-member agency will first target corrupt police, judges and prosecutors.

The agency's investigators will be integrated with other law enforcement authorities and will probe cases upon receiving tips from ethics officers, Chou said.

Once a probe has been carried out, the case will then be handed over to prosecutors, the AAC head added.

The ACC consists of top-flight officers and prosecutors selected from the government ethics system, various investigative agencies and police departments.

Among them is Chang Wen-chi, previously an ethics officer, who participated in the investigation of the Nangang Exhibition Hall scandal in 2008, in which former Interior Minister Yu Cheng-hsien was sentenced to two years in prison.

Her outstanding Internet search skills helped the investigators to pinpoint the middleman between corrupt officials and contractors for the Nangang project by simply browsing through publicly available information online.

Kuo Yung-ping, also previously an ethics officer, has overseen more than 500 purchasing, procurement and construction cases. With a vast amount of experience under her belt, she knows all the possible loopholes involving construction projects inside out.

Meanwhile, ruling Kuomintang (KMT) legislators demanded that the ACC should ensure that the country's conviction rate for corrupt officials grows by 10 percent, up from the current 55 percent.

KMT Legislator Chao Li-yun said the public is dissatisfied with the conviction rate for corrupt politicians, noting that the rates in both Singapore and Hong Kong are at least 70 percent.

In related news, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang said at a press conference later in the day that the DPP has drawn up a list of 10 corruption cases involving either Ma or Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin.

Tsai said the DPP will submit these cases to the AAC to see if the agency is ready to take on "real" cases.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Sherry Tang, Lin Chung-sen and Ann Chen)