Taiwan jails 14 over railway sex corruption scandal

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan has jailed 14 people for up to 17 years in a corruption scandal that saw railway officials accepting sex services and visits to hostess clubs in exchange for business contracts.

In the biggest graft case to hit the state rail sector, seven Taiwan Railway Administration officials were convicted and sentenced for corruption.

They were found to have received perks as a reward for helping firms secure contracts for eight rail projects, worth more than TW$1.1 billion (S$47.3 million), in the past six years.

A construction broker and six businessmen - including the head of a construction company and the head of a plastics company - were also jailed for up to five years for bribing officials.

All were convicted and sentenced by Taichung district court in central Taiwan on Tuesday.

The highest-ranking defendant was Chung Chao-hsiung - a former deputy head of the TRA - who was sentenced to 10 years and two months for accepting banquets and paid-for hostess clubs in exchange for favourable treatment.

TRA official Cheng Wen-chung received the heaviest sentence after taking more than 100 hostess club visits.

"Cheng was implicated in more cases than other defendants and accepted the most hostess clubs visits. He seriously violated the civil servant's code of conduct," said Mr Chuang Shen-yuan, a spokesman for the court.

TRA employee Chang Ching-tsai was jailed for 15 years for accepting paid-for sex services to help firms pass quality checks.

All the defendants can appeal their convictions.

Five officials were cleared of corruption and were instead found to have committed "administrative negligence". They were not jailed.