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46 indicted in Taiwan's Kaohsiung port scandal

46 indicted in Taiwan's Kaohsiung port scandal

Taipei: Prosecutors in Taiwan said on Thursday they had indicted 46 people from the island's largest port and from eight shipping lines on charges of inflating data, apparently in an effort to raise the port's global ranking, writes Reuters.

The Kaohsiung Harbour Bureau director general and other officials were indicted over the past few days on charges they paid the freight lines a total of about T$300 million ($9.12 million) since 2007 to exaggerate shipping volumes, said Chung Chung-hsiao, a spokesman with the Kaohsiung prosecutor's office.

Kaohsiung's port, the world's third-busiest in the late 1990s, has fallen to No. 8 with the expansion of ports in nearby China following rapid economic growth.

"We don't know their motivation, but we do know they were exaggerating," Chung said. "We have to do what we have to do. So much money and so many faked documents -- it's pretty big."

After a year of investigation following a citizen complaint, prosecutors indicted the port officials with falsifying records, seeking personal gain and breaching contracts, Chung said.

Port officials declined to comment on the case.

The shipping lines, which include Taiwan's No. 2 shipper Yang Ming Marine, were charged with accepting money to inflate shipping records, Chung said. A Yang Ming official said the firm had hired a lawyer but could not comment on the case.  [18/06/09]