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June 29, 2017

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Taichung prosecutors question top TRA official over claims of bribery

The Taichung District Prosecutors' Office yesterday launched raids on the offices and residences of people connected to the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to procure evidence related to alleged bribery. Nineteen officials and businessmen were questioned, including TRA deputy director general Chung Chao-hsiung, according to the prosecutors office.

Chief Prosecutor Tsai Chung-hsi said that as many as 120 agents in Taichung and Taipei, led by six prosecutors, raided 31 residences and offices connected to TRA executives and related businessmen in Taichung and Taipei. The raid searched for evidence pertaining to alleged bribing scandals concerning railway material procurement projects.

Prosecutors and agents were tipped off that TRA officials were allegedly collaborating with brokers to help certain companies win railway material procurement bidding projects at low prices. Further, the concerned companies benefited from changes in material specifications, extensions in the engineering period of time, and demands for additional budget. In turn, TRA executives received kickbacks from the firms.

The procurement projects in question included a NT$200 million project bid in 2010 for buying steel and iron rails. Another was a NT$8 million material procurement project earlier this year, said prosecutors.

Prosecutors said the projects are part of a NT$14.9 billion program approved by the Cabinet to boost the safety of the entire railway system around the island, including plans to build barrier-free facilities at five stations on the western railway.

Prosecutors added that while serving as chief engineer of the TRA engineering department TRA in 2011, the current TRA deputy director general Chung Chao-hsiung, was allegedly involved in taking bribes from winning bidders of these aforementioned projects. TRA!|s engineering department chief Kuo Wen-tsai and Taichung engineering section chief Hu You-liang and other related TRA officials were also questioned for their alleged involvement in these irregularities.

A rubber dealer surnamed Chen was suspected of bribing TRA executives with imported cars and expensive foreign liquor worth over NT$1 million, according to prosecutors.

In addition to taking cash bribes, TRA officials were also allegedly offered sexual favors, prosecutors added.

All suspects may be charged with violating the Anti-Corruption Act.

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