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September 27, 2017

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Diplomat indicted on bribery charge: prosecutors

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A diplomat who previously served at Taiwan's Vietnam representative office yesterday was indicted for allegedly taking bribes for visa applicants in Vietnam, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office announced yesterday.

Hsiao Yu-wen (蕭裕文), a former secretary at Taipei's office in Hanoi, was indicted for allegedly taking bribes while processing visa applications in the Southeast Asian country.

The indictment said Hsiao had allegedly collaborated with another Taiwanese national, Tsao Pao-lin (曹保麟), the secretary-general of a Taiwanese business association in Vietnam, in handling visa-applications for Vietnamese students who wished to apply for visas to study in Taiwan.

Tsao introduced those students to apply for visa applications at Taipei's Vietnamese office. In return, each applicant needed to pay US$4,000. Hsiao all later approved these applications, the indictment said.

During investigation, prosecutors found that Hsiao has in his possession a total of 83 luxury-brand bags that worth NT$1.7 million and a bank account containing US$2.8 million.

Hsiao, however, refused to disclose the origin of these properties, given the fact that his salary as a diplomat could hardly afford the large amount of expensive bags and the US$2.8 million bank account, the indictment said.

The prosecutors, therefore, decided to indict Hsiao for property crimes of unknown origin and on bribery charges. Tsao, on the other hand, was indicted on forgery of documents.

Asked to comment, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) yesterday said that the ministry respects the prosecutors' indictment.

Meanwhile, Hsiao yesterday remained low-key and would not comment after hearing the indictment.

Not That Many Bags: Hsiao

Hsiao, however, insisted that he does not have "that many bags" when asked by local media to comment on his indictment.

The case came under the spotlight last May after local media reports quoted sources accusing Hsiao of taking bribes from Vietnamese nationals who wanted to marry Taiwanese or study in Taiwan.

Under normal circumstances, Hsiao's office has an interview system to screen out applicants seeking to visit Taiwan under false pretenses. Hsiao, the reports claimed, allegedly processed visas without conducting interviews after accepting bribes.

Taiwan's top envoy to Vietnam, Huang Chih-peng (黃志鵬), reportedly discovered the irregularity and forced Hsiao to leave his post and return to Taiwan.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) probe later found that Hsiao did handle far more visa applications than his counterparts in the office in Hanoi.

The ministry, therefore, decided to refer the case to the Agency Against Corruption (AAC) under the Ministry of Justice on May 23, 2013.

Hsiao has been transferred back to MOFA's headquarters in Taipei following the incident.

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