ELECTIONS 2022/Prosecutors raid premises over alleged vote-buying with Chinese funds

11/24/2022 09:20 PM
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Image source: Pixabay
Image source: Pixabay

Taipei, Nov. 24 (CNA) Taipei prosecutors raided the homes and offices of three people, including one surnamed Pan (潘) based on the provisions of the Anti-Infiltration Act Thursday, searching for evidence of vote-buying using alleged Chinese funds, the first such searches ahead of Saturday's local elections and since the Act took effect on Jan. 15, 2020.

Prosecutors and Investigation Bureau agents searched four locations belonging to Pan and two another people, with the first search warrants ever issued based on the Act, on the grounds the suspects were engaged in buying votes at the behest of Chinese backers.

The trio are being questioned by investigators in an effort to determine the origin of the funds allegedly used to buy votes for certain candidates in Taipei in the upcoming local elections, prosecutors said.

It was the second time Pan's premises were searched in two weeks.

On Nov. 11, investigators searched the premises of Pan, a man surnamed Chou (周) and five other associates after receiving a tipoff they allegedly bought votes for specific candidates in the Taipei mayoral and city councilor elections through meals or activities organized in September and October, breaching the Civil Servants Election And Recall Act.       

After the searches, Chou and Pan were released on NT$100,000 bail, while the other five defendants were barred from leaving the country.

Chou, who is the head of a local political party, initially refused to pay the bail and was held incommunicado at the request of prosecutors, but later paid NT$50,000 bail and was freed after a hearing at the Taipei District Court.

The evidence seized during the Nov. 11 raids suggested that Pan served as a middleman providing Chinese funds to certain candidates and instructing an unnamed political party to conduct campaign activities using funds linked to China, prosecutors said.

According to the Anti-Infiltration Act, it is illegal to act on the instructions of or with the funding of “foreign hostile forces " including engaging in campaigning or lobbying, or receiving illegal political donations.

Although these activities are already defined as illegal in other related laws, the Anti-infiltration Act stipulates penalties for individuals who break those laws at the behest of or with the financial support of "infiltration sources."

Those in violation of the law can be given a jail term of less than 5 years combined with a possible fine of below NT$10 million.

(By Flor Wang and Hsio Po-wen)

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