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May 29, 2017

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Keelung gov't officials taken for questioning

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Keelung prosecutors yesterday morning searched the Keelung City Government complex and later in the evening searched the office of Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰).

Five Keelung City officials were taken back to the prosecutors' office for questioning, but the Keelung District Prosecutors Office (KDPO) refused to comment on the investigation, nor did it reveal the identities of the five officials who were questioned. The KDPO said it will make a public announcement regarding the case when the searches are completed.

Prosecutors yesterday morning searched several offices of the city government, including the Urban Development Bureau, Department of Economic Affairs and Department of Building Management Information System. Official documents regarding soil conservation projects were taken by the prosecutors for their investigation.

Given that the departments searched by the prosecutors mainly handle construction projects, political commentators suggested that the investigation might be related to alleged corruption in public construction.

Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong (張通榮) told local reporters that he does not know anything about the incident, noting that none of the officials that were questioned reported to him about anything before.

The Keelung City Government said during a press conference yesterday evening that it was not informed by prosecutors about the searches, adding that the investigation was not expected.

The city said that as the case is under investigation at the moment, it will respect the prosecutors' authority and cooperate with the investigation.

Over the past few months, district prosecutors' offices across the nation have been investigating alleged corruption in several cities and counties. Apart from Keelung, Taoyuan County (桃園縣), Taipei City, New Taipei City and Hsinchu County (新竹縣) have all had searches and investigations.

KMT-ruled Cities and Counties Searched

The prosecutors cooperated with the Agency Against Corruption (AAC) to investigate a public housing project in Taoyuan and discovered a bribery case that involved former Taoyuan County Deputy Magistrate Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) and real estate tycoon Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄).

The Investigation Bureau in June received a report, claiming that Taoyuan officials allegedly leaked a list of names of sewage construction project committee members to a bidding company. The bureau is currently investigating the case.

The Shilin District Prosecutors Office in June searched the Taipei City Government's New Construction Office and reportedly discovered evidence of bribery in an underground pipe installation bid.

Earlier in May, New Taipei prosecutors discovered that six New Taipei City officials allegedly took bribes from construction consortiums and approved the firms' construction licenses in an unusually short period of time.

The Hsinchu prosecutor earlier in April searched Hsinchu's Agriculture Department Office and is currently investigating a public construction project approved by the department.

Given that the aforementioned local governments are all Kuomintang-ruled cities and counties, many political commentators said that the investigations of the alleged corruption might affect the mayoral elections at the end of the year.

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