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Taiwan security officials sentenced to over 10 years for cigarette smuggling

Former intelligence officials plotted to smuggle cigarettes under cover of a presidential trip

Former security official Wu Tsung-hsien (center) was sentenced to 10 years and 4 months in prison Friday 

Former security official Wu Tsung-hsien (center) was sentenced to 10 years and 4 months in prison Friday  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Two former intelligence officials received prison sentences of more than 10 years Friday (June 11) for masterminding a cigarette smuggling plan, using an overseas trip by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as cover.

Appeals were still possible against the verdicts by the Taipei District Court, the Liberty Times reported.

In 2019, National Security Bureau (NSB) officers Wu Tsung-hsien (吳宗憲) and Chang Heng-chia (張恒嘉) headed a plot to bring about 10,000 cartons of cigarettes into the country. This was in the wake of a presidential tour of Caribbean allies, using a China Air Lines (CAL) warehouse as a temporary storage place.

However, the cigarettes were found after the president arrived back in the country. This touched off a major scandal implicating Taiwan’s top intelligence agency, the presidential entourage and the country’s main airline.

The court handed Wu a prison sentence of 10 years and four months Friday, with Chang receiving 10 years and two months. Seven other security officials, including drivers, received sentences ranging from six years and two months to seven years.

Four managers at CAL were sentenced to jail terms of between two years and five years and four months on charges including tax evasion. Among the people who had ordered cigarettes, a security official received a suspended two-year prison term because he cooperated, while a friend of Wu was sentenced to six months, or a fine of NT$180,000, the Liberty Times reported.

Friday’s verdict also included the confiscation of a total of NT$8 million in illegal income from the conspirators. At least 73 people were believed to have ordered cigarettes from the smugglers, but as most of them admitted their role and had not physically taken part in the smuggling, prosecutions were suspended.

Updated : 2021-06-14 11:53 GMT+08:00