Nine police officers have been listed as suspects in a bribery investigation involving car rental firms and motor vehicle offices in northern Taiwan, including one officer who allegedly received more than NT$1 million (US$33,568) in bribes from more than 100 people.
The officers allegedly received bribes from drivers who had been caught speeding and were at risk of having their licenses suspended for six months, for helping them exploit a loophole in Article 12 of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例).
The article states that drivers “operating a vehicle without license plates … shall be fined from NT$3,600 to NT$10,800.”
Instead of issuing a speeding ticket, the officers allegedly fined the drivers the minimum amount stated in the article and colluded with staff at local motor vehicle offices to expedite the issuance of new licenses, asking drivers for a bribe of NT$10,000 apiece.
Most bribes allegedly came from car rental firms and drivers of luxury vehicles.
New Taipei City prosecutors on Thursday coordinated searches in 29 locations, after investigating dozens of police officers in New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Hsinchu County over two years.
Prosecutors said they had been tipped off by other officers and staff at motor vehicle offices.
They questioned 79 people, 41 of whom were listed as witnesses or persons of interest, and 38 — including the officers, car rental firm staff and motor vehicle office employees — were listed as suspects, prosecutors said.
The officers under investigation are from New Taipei City’s Banciao (板橋) and Shulin (樹林) districts, Taoyuan’s Pingjhen (平鎮) and Bade (八德) districts, and Hsinchu County’s Jhubei City (竹北), they said.
Separately, Hualien County prosecutors have searched the office and residence of a deputy squad captain in Fonglin District (鳳林), who is suspected of colluding with an illegal logging operation.
Prosecutors said the officer, who heads the precinct’s criminal investigation section, allegedly helped members of the ring fell trees and collect driftwood in the Matai-an River (馬太鞍溪), including in December last year, by transporting timber in a police vehicle.
Prosecutors are questioning witnesses, and the officer and ring members are to face charges for breaching the Forestry Act (森林法), they said.
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