Illegal money transfers linked to Taiwan election

The authorities have also raided more than 1,000 underground gambling rings

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Premier Su Tseng-chang.

Premier Su Tseng-chang. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese intelligence and law enforcement agencies are probing underground transfers of overseas money totaling NT$100 billion and investigating if it is linked to campaigns aimed at influencing the upcoming elections.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said at an Executive Yuan meeting on Thursday (Dec. 12) that it had been investigating 66 cases of underground money transfers since July. More than NT$100 billion (US$3.2 billion) was wired from a number of Chinese cities, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Vietnam to Taiwan.

A total of 279 people are believed to be involved and six people have been detained by the authorities, according to MOJ. The ministry added that it had seized NT$618 million in account savings, money in foreign currencies, as well as six property units owned by the suspects.

However, the ministry said further investigation was required to determine whether the money transfers were intended for election betting, or as donations to specific candidates. With the presidential and legislative elections less than one month away, the authorities are focused on criminal activities that could affect election outcomes.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) asserted on Thursday the administration would not tolerate any illegal attempts by homegrown groups or foreign forces to meddle in Taiwan’s elections. He instructed intelligence and law enforcement agencies to continue their extensive investigations into bribery, gang violence, illegal money transfers, underground election betting, and the spread of disinformation.

In addition to illegal money transfers, law enforcement agencies have also busted more than 1,700 underground gambling rings in recent months, with nearly NT$50 million of gambling money in circulation. A total of 17 people were arrested for their involvement in election betting schemes, said MOJ.

According to MOJ, 395 people are facing bribery charges, and 887 have been arrested for alleged organized gang activities. In addition, intelligence agencies are investigating 74 disinformation cases, with five cases of interfering in the elections.