Taiwanese authorities are investigating a former secretary of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hanoi and another Taiwanese agent for reportedly cooperating to take bribes to illegally grant visas to Vietnamese students two years ago, according to a Taiwanese official in Ho Chi Minh City.
The former staff, surnamed Hsiao, and his accomplice, broker Tsao, are facing charges of illicitly demanding extra money from Vietnamese students to approve unqualified visa applications in 2012, Tran Bach Tu, chief of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ho Chi Minh City, told Tuoi Tre on Wednesday.
Hsiao, who was authorized to screen visa applications, collected 30,000 Taiwan dollars (US$990) in return for his approval of each substandard application, according to Taiwanese investigators.
The investigators said the two men, already summoned back to Taiwan, earned no less than 3 million Taiwan dollars from illegally passing hundreds of such applications.
Students are all required to prove their financial capability, provide academic records, and attend an interview with a Taiwanese officer before getting a visa, chief Tu said.
But Tsao purportedly asked those Vietnamese students with unqualified applications to pay an extra amount of money to secure a visa.
After receiving the money, he transferred these documents to former secretary Hsiao for his ratification.
Many applicants still obtained visas even though they failed in the interview round, thanks to this mode of dishonesty.
The alleged scam was revealed when several Vietnamese students tipped Taiwanese media off about it, Tu said.
No visas were issued to them after they received repeated requests for additional fees, he added.
The chief asserted that this is the first alleged visa fraud at Taiwanese representative offices in Vietnam.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office is a representative office which handles foreign affairs and citizen services of Taiwan.