Cultural heritage official, five others indicted in bribery case

11/29/2021 10:39 PM
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The Bureau of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture (Image from Google map at google.com/maps)
The Bureau of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture (Image from Google map at google.com/maps)

Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) A senior Bureau of Cultural Heritage official and five other suspects were indicted Monday by the Changhua District Prosecutors Office for their involvement in a series of bribery cases dating back to 2016.

They were indicted on charges ranging from taking and giving kickbacks in violation of the Anti-Corruption Act to leaking secret public information unrelated to national defense in violation of the Criminal Code.

Changhua prosecutors said that acting on a tip received in March, they raided 18 locations, including the residence and offices of Hsiao Ming-pin (蕭銘彬), a senior specialist with the bureau, between March and August this year, and after detailed questioning, Hsiao admitted to committing his offenses.

In the indictment, prosecutors said Hsiao received a total of NT$8.57 million (US$308,460) in bribes or kickbacks through three different cases he handled at the bureau, and helped others profit as well.

In one of the them, the prosecutors office said, Hsiao received NT$1.72 million in kickbacks for arranging for a specific company to conduct underwater cultural heritage impact assessments for offshore wind developers.

According to the indictment, offshore wind developers are required to conduct such an assessment before work on their projects begins to determine if their projects threaten cultural assets.

They then must submit a report on the assessment's findings to the bureau for its approval, which is needed for the project to proceed.

Prosecutors alleged that Hsiao, then head of the bureau's Section of Underwater Cultural Heritage, hinted to the wind power developers that they should have the assessment and report done by Multitek System Co. because otherwise the report might not be approved and could even be rejected.

From November 2016 to May 2017, a total of 10 developers submitted assessments conducted by Multitek, and they were all approved by Hsiao's office, prosecutors said.

Multitek was paid NT$8.95 million for its services, and its chairman, Tan Shun-lun (譚順倫), then handed over the NT$1.72 million in kickbacks during encounters in a Starbucks bathroom and at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, prosecutors alleged.

Tan was one of the five others indicted by Changhua prosecutors.

In the second case, also in 2016 when Hsiao was responsible for procuring remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) for the bureau, he allegedly helped a company run by a man surnamed Chang (張) win an ROV tender by revealing the specifics of a tender to him.

Chang then was able to go through Tan and another suspect identified as Lin (林) to shape the procurement specifications for the tender, giving him an edge, and Hsiao then drafted the tender documents based on Chang's input.

After winning the tender, Chang's company made several transfers to Multitek totaling NT$11.68 million and described them as "consulting fees," when in fact they were kickbacks, prosecutors alleged, and Tan gave NT$5.85 million of that to Hsiao.

In the third case, which occurred in November 2018 when Hsiao served as chief of affairs of the bureau's Secretariat, he was found to have illegally revealed the details of a tender to a company led by an executive surnamed Liu (劉), prosecutors said.

Hsiao helped Liu win a tender with a bid of NT$9 million to supply early smoke detection apparatus to be installed in ancient buildings managed by the bureau.

Liu then paid NT$1 million in kickbacks to Hsiao, according to prosecutors.

(By Wu Che-hao, Flor Wang and Luke Sabatier)

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