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Diplomat freed on bail in Vietnam corruption case
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-10 03:07 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A diplomat previously posted in Vietnam was released on bail of NT$500,000 (US$16,600) Friday morning after allegations he pocketed money in exchange for visas for Vietnamese students.

Hsiao Yu-wen, a secretary at the Taiwanese representative office in Vietnam, was questioned by prosecutors Thursday. They said he might be guilty of forgery and corruption, but did not apply for him to be detained. The Taipei District Court set bail and barred him from leaving the country and from traveling out to sea.

He allegedly conspired with recruitment firms to make money out of Vietnamese citizens wanting to travel to Taiwan by issuing student visas in exchange for bribes.

The middleman in the case, a Taiwanese national called Tsao Poh-lin, failed to turn up for questioning and was extradited by Vietnam last August, reports said. The court rejected a prosecutors’ request to detain Tsao and freed him Thursday morning on bail of NT$1 million (US$33,000) instead. As a result, prosecutors decided to move and to call in Hsiao for questioning as a defendant.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied it had tried to cover up the case. Last April, it interviewed Hsiao about the suspicions and set an investigator to Vietnam to collect more evidence, the ministry said.

The investigation did turn up signs that the story had been true, but because of limits to the powers of the MOFA anti-corruption department, it turned the case over to prosecutors on May 23 last year.

In a separate case, a court in Kaohsiung approved the detention of four customs agents accused of accepting bribes in return for letting in fish products and misrepresenting their value to evade taxes.

Prosecutors interrogated 25 customs agents and business people Thursday before reaching the decision to keep four detained and freeing the others on bail or simply releasing them.

More than NT$3 million (US$99,800) in bribes had been impounded by prosecutors in the case which broke last April, reports said.

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