Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang reaffirmed his determination to get to the bottom of alleged corruption involving collaboration between ministry officials with a human trafficking ring to bring Chinese prostitutes into Taiwan. Lee also said that a judicial probe into the case has begun and noted that the ministry will not condone any illegal practices.
Lee said he had contacted National Police Agency Director-General Hou Yu-ih and that he would not let anyone involved off the hook. "Chinese women coming to Taiwan have to follow due procedure, " Lee said, adding that the ministry will review this procedure. "The ministry will also pursue the ministry officials involved, no matter how high their rank may be," he said.
Meanwhile, investigators turned over Lee Jo-ling, a senior clerk at the Bureau of Immigration, and human smuggling ring leader Chung Jui-chih, as well as eight others, to the Taipei Prosecutor's Office for further questioning.
Investigators a day earlier searched Lee's office and residence as well as a brothel run by Chung. They also questioned a dozen immigration officials, including Lee, as well as Chung, Chinese women and local men who had agreed to enter marriages of convenience with the women.
The agents said Lee is familiar with the procedure for Chinese women coming to Taiwan and knows that immigration officials are usually more lax when handling cases that legislators have requested should have speedy treatment.
Lee therefore attached the entry applications from the Chinese women to the "speedy cases" to make it easier for them to enter Taiwan, the agents added. The women were also told to fake pregnancy so as to get an early interview by immigration officials upon arrival.
The agents found that the trafficking ring has been able to bring over around 80 women through marriages of convenience. For each case, Lee received between NT$30,000 and NT$80,000, and she is estimated to have received around NT$2 million in bribes.
The agents said the Chinese women paid back the expenses of between NT$200,000 and NT$300,000 for coming to Taiwan to the smuggling ring by engaging in prostitution, and also have to pay the "local husbands" hired by the ring around NT$30,000 per month.
Adapted from: "Government To Crack Down on Officials Involved in Trafficking Ring." CNA. 28 October 2006.
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