Taiwan Nat. Immigration Agency under investigation, possible breach of national security

Case involves former NIA officials, bribery, and a potentially compromised automated border control information system used by the agency

Image: Pixabay.

Image: Pixabay.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Some top former officials at the National Immigration Agency (NIA) are under criminal investigation, it was announced by CNA on Sunday Dec. 3.

The investigation is looking into the possibility of corruption, and bribery related to the purchase of a potentially compromised automated border control (ABC) system, which may have put national security at risk.

Current regulations in Taiwan forbid government agencies from purchasing or using information services or products originating from China or involving Chinese intermediaries.

The ABC system is valued at NT$ 52 million, or about US$ 1.73 million dollars.

Two of the individuals under investigation for their relation to the purchase of the ABC system are; Shih Ming-te (施明德), who is the former head of the NIA's Information Division, and the current Information Center Director in the Ministry of the Interior; and Chen Ying-Cheih (陳英傑), a former NIA section chief.

They are suspected of a possible a bid-rigging arrangement and possible collusive tendering related to the purchase of, and bids to operate the ABC system, according to the CNA.

A Taiwanese company, headed by Lee Chi-shen (李奇申) was reportedly awarded the bid for operation of the ABC system by Shih. Lee's corporation, the Transtep Technology Group, provides biometric security solutions that are sourced from China.

According to the report, law enforcement officials suspect Lee offered Shih financial benefits in exchange for the award to Lee's company.

Experts worry that private and potentially sensitive data about Taiwanese citizens may have been compromised via the Transtep Technology Group's information systems, which would be a serious breach of national security.

As of Dec. 3, reports do not indicate that there was any intentional conspiracy involving foreign agents. Investigations are ongoing.

In October 2017, the government announced that it would be introducing electronic ID cards starting in 2018.

On Nov. 11, Taiwan News published an editorial by Luis Ko about the logistical reasons why pursuing an eID at this point in time is not in the best interests of Taiwan.

Ko stated so long as the Taiwan government can "not fulfill preconditions to safeguard information safety, then it should not be issuing electronic identity cards to be used by the public."

Updated : 2021-01-28 17:59 GMT+08:00