The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld the guilty verdict for former New Taipei City deputy mayor Hsu Chih-chien (許志堅), who was convicted of taking bribes from real-estate developers, and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Hsu, a top aide to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), was also given a reduced four-month term for breaching the Anti-
Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) and the Business Entity Accounting Act (商業會計法), although the latter sentence can be commuted to a fine.
It was the second ruling on the case, which can still be appealed.
Investigators found that Hsu had accepted cash and gifts worth NT$7.58 million (US$252,456 at the current exchange rate) between May 2011 and July 2015.
Hsu took advantage of his position as deputy mayor and chairman of the city’s urban renewal project screening committee and urban planning committee to expedite the approval and review of such projects and help companies that offered him the bribes win the bids, according to the investigation.
The two companies were Hung Sheng Development Co and Le Young Construction.
Hung Sheng Development owner Chou Li-hui (周麗惠) allegedly gave Hsu more than NT$6 million in cash, along with three luxury watches and several gold bars, while also making regular payments to Hsu’s family members disguised as salaries, as well as providing money as a dowry for the marriage of Hsu’s daughter.
Chou pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain to receive a reduced sentence, and was given an eight-month prison term for bribery and a seven-month term for breaching the Business Entity Accounting Act, which can be commuted to a fine.
Chou was also fined NT$5 million.
Le Young Construction president Tsou Hsueh-e (鄒雪娥) was convicted of bribing Hsu and given a six-month term, which can be commuted to a fine.
Hsu’s son, Hsu Shih-yun (許士耘), and his older brother, Hsu Chih-yuan (許志遠), were convicted of forgery charges and found to have received payments from Chou.
They were each handed a three-month term, commutable to a daily fine of NT$1,000.
In addition, architect Tsai Che-yi (蔡哲義), who works for Le Young Construction, and accountant Chou Chia-hsuan (周佳萱), from Hung Sheng Development, were found guilty on related charges, with each handed a suspended sentence of four months.
Hsu Chih-chien was found guilty by the Taipei District Court on March 6 in the first ruling.
He filed an appeal, saying he did not take part in any bribery or corruption.
Hsu Chih-chien told the High Court that he and Chou were old friends, and it was normal for them to give valuable gifts to each other.
He added that the regular payments that Chou made were for investment in a Taipei property owned by his family.
However, the court rejected Hsu Chih-chien’s appeal, after finding sufficient evidence and corroboration from witness testimony that he had taken bribes in exchange for influencing decisions to favor the two companies.