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Legislators move to close loopholes in bribery laws

The China Post news staff--The Legislative Yuan yesterday completed its first reading of the proposed revisions to the Anti-Corruption Statute, stipulating that those who bribe public officials will be subject to a maximum imprisonment of three years and/or a maximum fine of NT$500,000.

The stipulation comes in the form of an amendment to the Anti-Corruption Statute being proposed by the Ministry of Justice. The new regulation will have to pass the third reading by the legislature to take effect.

Under the existing statute, any person who offers a bribe or other unjust enrichment, promises to give anything of value or gives anything of value to public officials are not punished unless the officials are influenced in the performance of official acts.

But after the amendment is ratified by the Legislative Yuan, any person who bribes public officials to seek quicker issuance of licenses or renewal of cards will be subject to a jail term of under three years, detention, and/or a maximum fine of NT$500,000, although the issuance of licenses and the renewal of cards are legal duties of the officials.

Officials with the Ministry of Justice noted that aforementioned new regulation is introduced to plug the hole utilized by some top executives of local business groups to bribe former President Chen Shui-bian to seek better treatment from the government in the course of its second round of financial reforms. Although the top business executives were indicted for giving bribes, they were not convicted.

Meanwhile, those who tender a bribe or other unjust enrichment, promises to give anything of value to a person subject to this law in return for that person performing or omitting to perform any act in the course of their official duties shall still be sentenced to imprisonment from one to seven years, plus a fine of under NT$3 million.

In the original draft revisions to the Anti-Corruption Statute raised by the Ministry of Justice, the corresponding sentence would be cut to between six months and five years. But lawmakers resolved to keep the sentence unchanged, lest public feel that the government is being lenient with those found guilty of involvement in corruption.

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