Taiwan police suspected of abetting loan shark

Taiwan police suspected of abetting loan shark

TAIPEI - An investigation team from the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office (NTDPO) led by Prosecutor Chu Ren-jie, summoned four police officers yesterday for allegedly shielding and abetting a loan shark and reportedly forcing borrowers to transfer house and land deeds to the alleged loan shark, according to the Bureau of Investigation (BOI).

Chu yesterday dispatched a team of agents from the BOI's Taoyuan branch on a large-scale search at 11 locations, including Haishan Precinct and Luzhou Precinct of the New Taipei City Police Department (NTPD), as well as the NTPD Criminal Investigation Division, taking 17 suspects into custody, including police officers, for further investigations.

According to prosecutors, the BOI was tipped off by informants last year, accusing NTPD police officers of working with a loan shark surnamed Su in Luzhou District. Undercover investigations were then conducted, prosecutors added.

According to the NTPD, Su operated near to Luzhou Precinct in 2009, allegedly charging exorbitant interest rates, and when borrowers could not pay back the loans in time, they were forced into transferring their house and land deeds to him.

The four senior police officers summoned yesterday are suspected of having abetted Su in the illegal business, going after the borrowers when payments were not returned on schedule, and forcing them into transferring their deeds, prosecutors said.

The suspected senior police officers are current Chief Technician of the NTPD Criminal Investigation Division Chang Ming-wei, Chief of the Haishan Precinct Chang Ming-chao, Chief of the Haishan Guard Unit Chang Wen-hsien, and Chief of the Luzhou Precinct Lu Chih-hsiu.

Officers Also Suspected of Bribery

According to prosecutors, the four officers allegedly involved in the scandal have each invested with Su, with amounts ranging from NT$500,000 (S$22,000) to NT$5 million, and have also reportedly taken monthly bribes from him in cash, allegedly profiting by over NT$10 million between 2009 and 2013.

Many borrowers have reportedly fallen victim to the loan shark, and with police officers listed among the prime suspects, the investigation is now looking into breaches of corruption, fraud, and usury laws, prosecutors said.

In response to the scandal, the Commissioner of NTPD, Hu Mu-Yuan, said yesterday that all suspected police officers will be summoned and thoroughly investigated, and that if police officers are taken into custody, they will be suspended or removed from their current positions.

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