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May 28, 2017

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Nantou magistrate accused of bribery

Prosecutors yesterday summoned Nantou Magistrate Lee Chao-ching (李朝卿) on suspicion of corruption related to the county's road repair project near Renai Township (仁愛鄉) and Sinyi Township (信義鄉).

According to local reports, Lee was among seven people, most of them county officials, who were brought in for questioning.

Investigators said they found a tea leaf can in the magistrate's office containing NT$300,000.

Hung Chia-yuan (洪家原), acting chief prosecutor of Nantou District Prosecutors Office (南投地檢署), said yesterday that the alleged kickback involved in the case amounts to approximately NT$10 million.

The money was divvied up by Huang Rong-teh (黃榮德), head of Nantou's public works department (工務處), Hung said.

Hung added that the project was contracted out between the second half of 2011 and early this year.

A firm was selected for the project by way of limited tendering (限制性招標), prosecutors explained, adding that the company in question skimped on construction materials, while officials covered up for it during inspections.

In return the officials are claimed to have received 10 to 15 percent of the construction costs.

According to local reports, investigators began their probe on Nov. 7. Twenty-eight people were brought in for questioning; 11 were released on bail afterward.

Prosecutors then applied for Huang's detention at the district court in Nantou. They also requested the detention of Lee's senior secretary Chang Chih-yi (張志誼), as well as a businessman, surnamed Wu, who allegedly acted as a middleman.

Detention for all three was approved by the court on Nov. 8.

Afterward, investigators discovered and seized NT$2.4 million in cash at Wu's residence. Investigators began a second wave of operations yesterday morning, in which the magistrate's office and places of residence were searched. Five people were summoned for questioning, including Lee's secretary and driver.

Hung said that Huang acted as a coordinator in the case, while Chang was responsible for approving various aspects of the project, according to documents seized as evidence.

Prosecutors said that Huang and Chang were most likely following instructions given by Lee.

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