I’ve often mentioned the Chu An-hsiung case, still canonical as far as Taiwan city council speakers are concerned, but certainly KMT’s Lien Ching-tai, former city council speaker of Tainan deserves an Honorable Mention, as he was recently charged with fraud in a land case that highlights how the System works…

Former Tainan County Council Speaker Lien Ching-tai has been taken into custody after being questioned by prosecutors in the southern city of Tainan over his alleged involvement in profiting from a fraudulently-obtained loan on over-valued properties, local prosecutors said Tuesday.

The detainment came after Tainan prosecutors brought in 22 people from Tainan City and Tainan County for questioning regarding the scandle, the prosecutors said.

Lien later reported to the Tainan District Prosecutors Office with his lawyer after the office served Lien with a subpoena, the prosecutors noted.

Lien denied that he had obtained the loan by fraud, but the prosecutors said that they still filed an application with the Tainan District Court to detain Lien on charges of breach of trust, forgery, and criminal intimidation.

According to the prosecutors, Lien allegedly collaborated with high-ranking executives of First Bank 10 years ago to obtain the loans by asking the executives to overestimate the value of several plots of land and buildings used by Lien as collateral.

Lien defaulted on payments of the loans immediately after getting the money, defaulted, and let the bank to auction off the collateral, the prosecutors went on.

Lien then asked his friend to bid for the properties in the auction, and threatened other interested parties, causing them to drop their bids, which resulted in a very low bidding price, the prosecutors said.

Lien was therefore able to buy back the properties through his friend and gain NT$100 million (US$3 million) from the process, the prosecutors noted.

Lien made the news last year with a bribery case that was at once breathtaking in its chutzpah and yet in its way totally typical of the innocence of illegality on The Beautiful Isle:

A Taiwan High Court judge yesterday was detained for allegedly taking bribes and then ruling in favor of a number of incumbent and former Tainan County councilors.

“The Taiwan High Court’s Tainan Branch judge Hsu Hung-chi (徐宏志) is suspected of accepting more than NT$10 million (US$309,000) from former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Chou Wu-liu (周五六) and then acquitting Chou and a number of defendants,” Hsu Mei-nu (許美女), the spokeswoman for the Tainan District Prosecutors’ Office, said yesterday.

How did Lien’s buddy Chou get in the position of allegedly having to bribe a High Court Judge? Turns out it was business as usual in Tainan back in 1994:

In March 1994 KMT Tainan County councilor Lien Ching-tai (連清泰) and Chou ran for council speaker and vice speaker, respectively, and allegedly colluded to bribe councilors.

Lien and Chou reportedly took 34 councilors to Thailand before the speakership election, where the bribery took place.

Lien and Chou then each received 47 votes and won the speaker and vice speaker posts.

Yes, allegedly bribed the entire city council to elect him, meaning that electors and electees were both equally allegedly corrupt. City Council Speak posts are plum posts, since they do so much oversight and direction of land development, one of the cornerstones of local political economy in Taiwan. How was the bribery discovered? Here’s my favorite part:

Prosecutors found that [Vice Speaker] Chou’s wife, Chen Hsiu-hsia (陳秀霞), deposited more than NT$10 million into {Judge] Hsu’s bank account in August 2001.

Prosecutors summoned Chen for questioning on Thursday. Because she was unable to explain why she deposited the money into Hsu’s account, the Tainan District Court on Thursday night approved the prosecutors’ request to detain Chen.

Stunning. The wife of a co-defendant simply deposits the money directly into the judge’s account. What could be simpler? No messing around with difficult international fund transfers to Bermuda or Switzerland. Just drop off the $10 million bribe at the post office bank on the way to the supermarket….