TAIPEI (CNA) — A special service agent who accompanied President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during her just-concluded state visit to Taiwan’s Caribbean allies has been removed from his post pending investigation after allegedly smuggling NT$6 million-worth (US$191,418)of cigarettes into Taiwan.
The suspect, surnamed Wu (吳), had attempted to take advantage of the speedy clearance treatment enjoyed by government officials accompanying Tsai’s overseas visit to smuggle the cigarettes after the delegation arrived in Taiwan, according to a press statement released by the Customs Administration.
The administration said it had received a prior tipoff that the suspect had ordered the cigarettes at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and kept them in a warehouse of a China Airlines-affiliated onboard catering services company.
According to the Presidential Office, Tsai was “furious” when she was informed of the secret service official’s alleged involvement. She called on the National Security Bureau (NSB), where the suspect works, to work with relevant judicial authorities to investigate the case.
The NSB declined to comment on an ongoing investigation.
The alleged scandal was first made public by opposition New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) in a Facebook post earlier Monday.
According to Huang, the suspect ordered the cigarettes via an acquaintance of his who works for China Airlines.
According to the Customs Administration, each person older than 20 years of age can bring in one carton of cigarettes without the need to declare it.
When an inward-bound passenger brings in tobacco products in excess of duty-free quantities and fails to declare them, the excess quantity will be confiscated, and the passenger fined NT$10,000 for each carton of cigarettes, according to the Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act.
By Wu Chia-jun, Yeh Su-ping, Wang Yan-yu, Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh