MOFA official receives reduced sentence in visa bribery case

02/27/2020 07:36 PM
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Pixabay image for illustrative purpose only
Pixabay image for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Feb. 27 (CNA) A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official was sentenced to eight years and 10 months in prison by the Taiwan High Court on Thursday for his role in a student visa bribery scandal that occurred when he was posted to Vietnam in 2013.

The high court handed down the sentence on Hsiao Yu-wen (蕭裕文), a former secretary at Taiwan's representative office in Vietnam, after finding him guilty of 22 charges of corruption and owning property the payments for which could not be reasonably explained as defined by provisions in the Anti-Corruption Act.

The verdict can be appealed.

The sentence was shortened from a 10-year jail term handed down by the high court in a second trial when Hsiao was found guilty of 27 instances of corruption and profiteering in collusion with Tsao Pao-lin (曹保麟), a Taiwanese visa broker operating in Vietnam.

Hsiao was convicted of colluding with Tsao to issue study visas for unqualified Vietnamese students seeking to study in Taiwan in exchange for illegal payments from Tsao from May 2010 to January 2013.

An investigation showed Hsiao paid US$75,885.49 in rent and purchased 83 leather items from Louis Vuitton during the period in question without spending any of his official salary, which was deemed by prosecutors to be suspicious.

At the same time, Hsiao was also found to have US$16,900 in his bank account and have exchanged a further US$4,300 in cash, the origin of which he could not explain, prosecutors said.

In the first trial at the Taipei District Court in 2016, Hsiao received a jail term of 12 years, while Tsao received two years behind bar.

Hsiao was transferred back to Taipei after the MOFA detected irregularities in the issuance of visas he handled in early 2013. He has remained an employee at the ministry since then and the MOFA said it would remain so until the final ruling.

Tsao's sentence was later reduced to 18 months by the high court on charges of document forgery, including producing false financial statements and Chinese language certificates for Vietnamese applicants.

Tsao did not appeal the ruling.

(By Flor Wang and Liu Shih-yi)

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