12 Taiwan rail officials indicted on corruption

Twelve Taiwan railway officials including two deputy directors have been indicted on graft charges after allegedly accepting banquets and hostess club visits in the biggest corruption scandal to hit the state rail sector, prosecutors said.

Chung Chao-hsiung and Huang Min-jen, deputy chiefs of the Taiwan Railway Administration, were charged along with 10 employees on Wednesday for allegedly accepting gifts from businessmen.

The officials are accused of receiving treats worth more than Tw$6 million ($207,000) to help firms secure contracts for several projects worth some Tw$1 billion.

Prosecutors recommended "heavy sentences" for the deputy directors, for "severely damaging the interests of the country and the Taiwan Railway Administration", although they did not specify how long they should be jailed for.

Five businessmen and two construction brokers were also indicted in the case that has become the biggest scandal to hit the railway sector, as it involved the most senior and highest number of officials.

Taiwan Railway Administration said in a brief statement that it respected the prosecutors' decision and that it would collaborate in the ongoing investigation of the case.

Taiwan has been rocked by a string of high-profile corruption cases involving top officials in recent years, including ex-president Chen Shui-bian who is currently serving a 20-year jail term on multiple graft convictions.