School Lunch Bribes: Taipei Principals Sentenced for Taking US$1.2m

School Lunch Bribes: Taipei Principals Sentenced for Taking US$1.2m
Photo Credit: Tuojia Elementary School @Flickr CC BY SA 2.0

What you need to know

In 2011, maggots were found in the lunch containers at an elementary school in New Taipei City. An investigation then exposed a crime much more serious than insects.

A total of 38 elementary and junior high school principals in New Taipei City were sentenced for embezzlement on July 7.

In 2011, maggots were found in the lunch containers at an elementary school in New Taipei City. An investigation by the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office found that 45 of the 170 elementary and junior high schools in New Taipei City were involved in accepting bribes from contractors that prepared lunch boxes for the students.

Most schools in Taiwan provide lunch to their students through contracting companies. Contractors are selected via a public bidding system, held before the start of each school year. From 2002 to 2011, 31 principals in New Taipei City accepted a total of NT$41.2 million (US$1.2 million) from contractors to ensure their companies’ bids were successful, prosecutors found.

A total of 78 people have been charged in the scandal, including 38 principals, since 2011. The 31 principals sentenced today face between 14 months and more than 10 years imprisonment for receiving bribes. Of the principals charged but not sentenced, two have since passed away, four were found not guilty due to lack of evidence or accepted the money in the form of sponsorship for sports teams, and one did not take any money but leaked the names of bidders to contractors, actions for which he was sentenced to three months in jail.

The judge found that contractors sent cash directly to the principals’ offices and some were given the money as birthday presents. In one a case, a principal received a NT$4 commission for each student who received a lunch.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole


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