Taipei, The Control Yuan, the watchdog branch of the government, on Thursday censured the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Customs Administration over a high-profile case last year that involved attempted cigarette smuggling.
The Presidential Office and the National Security Bureau (NSB), meanwhile, were told to improve their operations and shake up the discipline of NSB officials to prevent a recurrence of any such incident.
Under the country’s Constitution, the Control Yuan has no power to censure the Presidential Office or the NSB.
The NSB officials involved in the case all showed a complete disregard for the rule of law, while airport authorities failed to exercise proper oversight of security, Control Yuan members Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠), Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) and Chang Wu-shou (張武修) said.
The case came under review by the Control Yuan, after it was revealed that two NSB agents had allegedly attempted to smuggle 10,000 cartons of cigarettes into Taiwan under the cover of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) return from a state visit in July 2019.
The incident on July 22 last year involved NSB agents, Presidential Office staff and China Airlines (CAL) workers, who allegedly collaborated to try to smuggle 10,000 cartons of cigarettes into Taiwan when Tsai returned on a CAL flight from an official 12-day visit to the Caribbean via the United States.
A subsequent investigation found that similar smuggling operations had been going on since at least 2014, which prompted the Presidential Office, CAL and the NSB to launch a series of probes and reforms.
Last August, nine NSB and Presidential Office officials and four CAL staffers allegedly involved in the case were indicted for violating the Anti-Corruption Act and the Tax Collection Act.