Taiwan makes bribe-paying illegal
Taipei - Taiwan has made bribe-paying illegal for the first time after a string of high-profile graft scandals, authorities said on Wednesday.
A bill passed by parliament on Tuesday makes individuals giving money, goods or favours - such as sexual services - to civil servants a crime, in contrast to regulations so far which have targeted officials who receive the pay-offs.
Giving kickbacks will be punishable on conviction by a maximum three-year jail term and a fine of up to Tw$500 000 ($17 200), said the justice ministry.
"The new law will help eradicate the 'red envelope culture' that has existed for a long time and correct the wrong that receivers of money are guilty while the givers escape punishment," the justice ministry said in a statement.
The phrase "red envelopes", which usually refers to cash gifts given on special occasions such as the Lunar New Year and weddings, is also a euphemism for bribes.
The law comes after Taiwan has been rocked by a spate of corruption scandals in recent years implicating top officials from ex-president Chen Shui-bian to judges and generals.
Chen, who insists he is a victim of a political witch hunt, is currently serving a prison term of 17 years and six months for two convictions of bribery, with more trials pending on other charges.
Three senior judges were indicted last year for taking bribes from defendants in exchange for not guilty verdicts while two lieutenant generals were recently sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for corruption.