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Taiwan: Anti-Corruption Agency Law Adopted

(Apr. 13, 2011) On April 1, 2011, the Legislative Yüan, Taiwan's highest legislative body, passed the Ministry of Justice Anti-Corruption Administration Organic Act. The date of entry into force of the Act will be determined by the Executive Yüan (the Cabinet). According to Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu, the new body created by the Act will not be in operation until July at the earliest. (Elaine Hou, Taiwan's Legislature OKs Anti-Corruption Agency, TAIWAN TODAY (Apr. 6, 2011); Shih Hsiu-chuan, Legislature Approves Law on Setting Up Anti-Corruption Unit, TAIPEI TIMES (Apr. 2, 201).)

The nine-article Act establishes a new agency under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) that will be responsible for formulating, promoting, and coordinating Taiwan's anti-corruption policies; investigating and prosecuting corruption cases; and supervising the ethics divisions of government agencies. The Act also calls for the formation of a review committee, comprising 11 to15 members, to provide the agency with professional advice. The members, who will serve without pay on a two-year appointment, will be selected from representatives of the fields of law, finance, and construction, as well as from among scholarly experts and government officials. (Hou, supra; Shih Hsiu-chuan, supra; text of the Act [in Chinese], Legislative Yuan website [scroll down to 100/04/01 on the Most Recently Adopted Bills webpage] (last visited Apr. 12, 2011).)

The anti-corruption agency, formed from the MOJ's Department of Government Ethics (DGE), will include up to 240 investigators and prosecutors, according to a resolution appended to the statute. (Hou, supra; Shih Hsiu-chuan, supra.) The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) opposed as redundant the replacement of the DGE by the new agency. The DPP had also suggested that the agency be independent, instead of being under the aegis of the MOJ, an issue that generated much debate. (Shih Hsiu-chuan, supra.)

In the view of one DPP legislator, Gao Jyh-peng, the Act's passage was a symbolic rather than a substantive move to address the problem of corruption. Likening the new agency's establishment to using “Tiger Balm” (an herbal remedy's trade name) to treat a mosquito bite, Gao was quoted as saying that “what President Ma Ying-jeou … wanted was to 'relieve the itching,' rather than eradicate corruption.” Moreover, Gao stated, “[t]he function of the anti–corruption administration will overlap with that of prosecutors' and the [MOJ]'s Investigation Bureau.” (Id.) Responding to this concern, Minister Tseng contended that the duties of the two units are clearly separated: “[t]he agency will focus on fighting corruption within government departments and councils while the bureau tackles financial crimes such as corporate embezzlement and breach of trust.” (Hou, supra; see also Wendy Zeldin, Taiwan: New Anti-Corruption Agency Planned, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Aug. 11, 2010).)