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Immigration officials facing corruption, security breach probe

2017/12/03 14:15:50

Taipei, Dec. 3 (CNA) National Immigration Agency (NIA) officials are facing a probe by law enforcement authorities over alleged bribery and a security breach through the import of an automated border control (ABC) system from China.

Taiwan's regulations ban government agencies from procurement of information services and systems from China due to national security concerns, including information security.

The ABC system, worth NT$52 million (US$1.73 million), could pose a threat to Taiwan's national security, experts said.

Ministry of the Interior Information Center Director Shih Ming-te (施明德), who formerly headed the NIA's Information Division, and former NIA section chief Chen Ying-chieh (陳英傑) are under investigation for suspected involvement in collusive tendering or bid-rigging arrangements in connection with the project, according to a Liberty Times report published Sunday.

Shih allegedly took bribes in exchange for awarding the automated border control bid to a Taiwanese company controlled by Lee Chi-shen (李奇申), chairman of Transtep Technology Group, which provides biometric security solutions sourced from China, according to the report.

Investigators suspect that Shih might have received financial benefits from Lee in exchange for leaking information about the tender.

Taiwan launched an e-Gate system at its major airports in 2012, which allows fast-track passport control for frequent visitors by reducing traveler processing times to seconds using biometric verification software such as facial recognition and fingerprint identification systems.

If the report is factual, Chinese companies might have gained access to the personal information of Taiwanese using the system, which would be a serious breach of national security, Taiwan's information system security experts said.

Prosecutors in Taipei confirmed that an investigation is being conducted, but they declined to comment further, as the case is ongoing.

(By Liu Shih-yi and Evelyn Kao)