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Four military officers, 13 civilians indicted in procurement scandal

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Prosecutors in New Taipei City yesterday indicted four military personnel and 13 civilians over suspicion of involvement in an armored vehicle procurement scandal.

The New Taipei District Prosecutors Office yesterday indicted four Army military officers along with employees of a contract manufacturer that was responsible for providing new parts for the armored vehicle.

According to the indictment, prosecutors received a tip last year stating that suspicious activity was observed in relation to the annual procurement project for new parts for the armored vehicles.

The contractor originally won the open bid to provide new foreign imported gearboxes to be installed in the vehicles by the Army. However, instead of offering new gearboxes, it sold the Army renovated, second-hand parts, the indictment said.

The contractor allegedly colluded with the Army personnel responsible for checking the procured parts in order to get the parts to pass the required tests, prosecutors said. In addition, the officer responsible for the procurement was already aware of the situation but did not report it to his superiors. The officer is suspected of having colluded with the contractor for his own illegal benefit, according to prosecutors.

Investigators raided the Army base in the central county of Nantou and the contractor's office in Taipei in December 2013, seizing a large amount of documents. Army officers and contractors involved were questioned.

New Taipei prosecutors stressed that it is crucial that the country possesses high-quality military equipment and condemned the defendants' behavior as having severely influenced the nation's combat capability.

Prosecutors indicted the 17 on charges of corruption and violations of the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法). The suspects were each asked to pay back payments they received from being involved in the illegal activities.

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