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Ex-NSC official indicted on corruption charges

Ex-NSC official indicted on corruption charges

Tainan prosecutors indicted former National Science Council (國科會) Vice Chairman Hsieh Ching-jyh (謝清志) yesterday for alleged corruption in a vibration-reduction project in the southern county of Tainan.
Prosecutors recommended to the court that Hsieh be put behind bars for 15 years and fined up to NT$30 million for his actions. Tainan prosecutors accused Hsieh, the convener of the project in dispute, of profiteering from pushing ahead with the plan.
The Tainan project aims to reduce the vibration produced by a high-speed railway in response to concerns of certain high-tech companies in the nearby Southern Taiwan Science Park that tremors from passing trains would damage their precision products.
However, investigators regarded the construction as unnecessary. They alleged that Hsieh and his colleagues "created" the plan to make illegal profits.
The non-essential project "wasted several billions of public treasury money," prosecutors argued in the hearing yesterday when they indicted Hsieh and several others and recommended a surprisingly high fine against the indicted.
Apart from Hsieh, prosecutors also indicted nine others including another NSC official and seven scholars who were members of an inspection committee supervising the controversial project. Hsu Hung-chang (徐宏彰), the last person indicted in the case, was the owner of a private company that was chosen by the inspection committee to carry out the plan. Because he offered to bribe Hsieh in order to initiate the project, prosecutors suggested the businessman be sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined an unusually high NT$500 million, the indictment read.
Nearly a year after they started the probe, prosecutors claimed in the indictment that the case was closed. They also clarified that the indictment had nothing to do with the expected opening of service of the high-speed railway on January 1.
Furthermore, "the case has been closed without notice to the Transportation Ministry or the NSC," the prosecutors pointed out.
The NSC scandal came to light last year when legislators of Taiwan Solidarity Union voiced their suspicions to the media that Hsieh and others related to the project had inflated the value of the contract by NT$2.5 billion. Hsu was awarded the project at price of NT$8.05 billion.
In their indictment, prosecutors charged that Hsieh took advantage of his NSC position to lobby for the controversial project. They further asserted that Hsieh had offered the indicted businessman a list of the committee members to help the latter buy them off.
The investigators believed that the project is pointless as they discovered that the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company had decided to spend NT$200 billion to set up a factory in the industrial park before Hsieh promoted the project. Investigators were convinced that the TSMC's investment plan proved that tremors brought about by the high-speed railway operation would not be as serious as Hsieh and others have warned.
Hsieh was taken into custody May 24 this year after being questioned by investigators for more than 10 hours over alleged profiteering. He had denied all accusations and contended that justice would eventually uphold his innocence.
The case made Hsieh the first political appointee of the country to be detained in a corruption scandal. Hsieh tendered his resignation right after the detainment.


Updated : 2021-05-17 03:48 GMT+08:00