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Taiwan customs officer shocked by graft
Publication Date : 12-01-2014
Kaohsiung Customs Director Chow Shun-zan yesterday expressed incredulity over the reports claiming rookie customs staff were accepting bribes out of fear of being bullied.
Four Kaohsiung Customs officers admitted to corruption on Friday after being questioned, and were released on bail of NT$50,000 (US$1,669) apiece.
The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office (KDPO) launched a series of investigations and summoned customs officers for questioning after they were tipped off that several officers were accepting bribes.
According to the KDPO, all four of the staff were in their 30s, had master's degrees and stable salaries, but had caved to the corrupt ways of the Kaohsiung Customs office and their fear of being shunned by their fellow personnel if they refused to be bribed. The staff had been reduced to tears after admitting their guilt, prosecutors said.
“How is this happening?” Chow asked. The director claimed that he had never received complaints from rookie staff members; Kaohsiung Customs had begun using a computerised system in an attempt to curb bribery among front-line custom officers, and had assigned the personnel in groups of two in order to keep an eye on each other, said Chow.
Front-line personnel had often been caught accepting graft in past years, but the incidents decreased greatly, said Chow. “It is unimaginable how the problem is still going strong now. I have asked our leading officials and personnel in charge of civil servants' ethics to look into this,
and to investigate the get-togethers of our new employees. If all of this proves to be true, we will be acting accordingly,” said Chow.
Chow noted that the staff would need extra lessons on employee ethics and staying away from corruption; Kaohsiung Customs would also provide a complaint hotline for personnel troubled with bribery. “We care for them and encourage them to make these incidents known,” said Chow.
The four previously detained personnel had served with the Kaohsiung Customs office for less than three years, and had all graduated from
well-known universities in Taiwan, said the KDPO. According to the staff, they had intended to refuse the graft offered to them within the customs department, but senior personnel had said, “There is no such thing as not taking graft,” prompting them to obey as they did not wish to offend the senior staff. One of the four had admitted to his crimes after reading aloud from the Bible he had with him.