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August 24, 2017

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Cabinet paves way for gov't to consider fraud law reform

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Simon Chang (張善政) instructed the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) during Thursday's Cabinet meeting to review possible revisions to anti-fraud legislation before May 20 so that the incoming government can reach "objective" decisions, in the wake of recent events involving Taiwanese nationals being deported to China by Kenyan and Chinese authorities.

The Kenyan deportation case has sparked debate in the judicial systems on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) stated that Chang, when meeting with the MOJ, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed the importance of standing by "procedural and judicial justice."

Sun and Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) emphasized that the MOJ would only pave the way for the incoming government to take over the "likely statutory amendments," and would not make legal revisions before May 20.

The emphasis was made as Justice Minister-designate Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), speaking in a radio interview, stated that there was no need to make revisions to anti-fraud penalties in the current Criminal Code. Chiu said she would instruct prosecutors to aim for the strongest charges possible when handling telecom fraud cases once taking office.

However, many lawmakers say the penalties in place are too lax, leading to the judicial system's inability to stem such cases from mushrooming.

Taiwan Prepares to Face off with China

MAC spokesman Jeff Yang has confirmed that a special inter-ministerial committee will meet tomorrow to determine the membership of a delegation bound for mainland China for negotiations on the Kenya deportation controversy.

Families of nationals deported to China have the legal right to visit their loved ones in custody, Yang added. However, such rights are dependent on individual cases, as some investigations may exclude the possibility of family visits.

Fraud Rings' Exodus to Southeast Asia and Africa

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB, 刑事局) told the Central News Agency that the current investigations are being handled by officials stationed in South Africa who will cooperate with the Taiwan and Chinese authorities.

The CIB said that cross-country fraud rings have migrated from Taiwan to China, and now to countries in Southeast Asia and Africa.

From 2004 to 2008, annual fraud cases passed the 40,000 mark, though after the Cross-strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement came into effect in 2009, cases have fallen to 30,000.

Fraud rings have since moved their operations and platforms to third countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines after 2010, the CIB stated.

Past Fraud Case Saw Taiwan Nationals Returned

Similar events have occurred in the past — in 2010, 24 people in an international telecommunications scam group, in which most victims were Chinese, were busted in the Philippines, after scamming victims out of at least 100 million yuan, Sun said.

Fourteen were Taiwanese, and the other 10 were Chinese — all were deported to China for investigations. After five months of investigations, the 14 Taiwan nationals were extradited back to Taiwan for trial, he stated.

Two were found not guilty, while the rest were handed sentences ranging from one year and four months to three years and eight months under combined violations.

However, no one was jailed as the case allowed them to convert imprisonment into fines, Sun stated.

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