TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The chief suspect in a scam involving the smuggling of more than 5,000 Chinese nationals into Taiwan was released on bail with a NT$250,000 (US$8,223) cash bond on Wednesday (Dec. 11) and barred from the leaving the country.
The suspect, a retired journalist surnamed Hung (洪), allegedly operated a ring that helped Chinese residents obtain permits to enter the island country on short term visits using fake invitation documents. Prosecutors have interrogated 10 suspects involved in the fraud.
The ringleaders are said to have made more than NT$10 million from the scheme, between 2017-2019. More than 30 travel agencies and 12 associations from both sides of the Taiwan Strait are believed to have been involved, reported CNA.
Individuals who have made their way to Taiwan include high-ranking Chinese government officials of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee, as well as those with a background in civil and religious affairs. The real purposes of their visits are still being investigated, the report said.
The operation, led by Hung, caught the attention of the New Immigration Agency in 2017, which discovered that more than 17 associations carrying out cross-strait exchanges were established by Hung and his relatives. The associations arranged “professional trips” for Chinese nationals to Taiwan, purportedly for leisure purposes, so as to circumvent restrictions, wrote UDN.
The illegal activities have been referred to the national security authorities for further investigation, according to the report.