Tri-Service General Hospital's superintendent Wang Chih-hung (???) and 24 other military physicians have been sentenced to between two months and a year in prison, in what has been dubbed the medical world's biggest ever tax evasion case.
The sentences handed down by the High Court can be commuted to a fine and are subject to appeal.
The military physicians were part of a larger group of 27 indicted on charges of tax evasion in 2016. The group was initially found not guilty by the Taipei District Court.
However, after prosecutors appealed the lower court's decision, the High Court overturned the ruling on Wednesday and found 25 of the defendants guilty of using charitable foundations as a vehicle for tax evasion.
In 2016, the Taiwan Taipei District Prosecutors Office started investigating allegations that former National Defense Medical Center chief and Academia Sinica fellow Chai Chok-yung (???) had used various charitable foundations to accept donations from over 200 medical physicians between 2005 and 2009 and then used the foundation to return 95 percent of the donations to the donors in the name of subsidizing research fees.
Chai and 224 others avoided prosecution by admitting to the allegations and agreeing to pay a fine.
However, Wang, who was chief of the Army Logistics Command's medical office when the investigation began, and 26 military physicians were indicted by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office after contesting the charges.
The Taiwan Taipei District Court in June 2018 found the 27 defendants not guilty, reasoning that they had received foundation subsidies not equal to 95 percent of their donations for the year and that the ratio of donations to subsidies varied, with some defendants making donations larger than their grants.
Prosecutors appealed the decision to the High Court, and after considering statements from the foundation's officials and accountants as well as reviewing bank transaction details, it was found that the foundation allowed donors to apply for research, study, or social welfare grants within 95 percent of their donated amounts.
The second trial found that the model of the foundations allowed the donors to get back a large amount of money they donated and benefit from tax deductions.
In addition, only 5 percent of the donation is actually obtained by the foundation and it has no substantial benefit to the foundation and does not meet the purpose of the donation, the trial found.
The collegial panel found that the model did not conform to the true nature of donations, subsidies, and other behaviors, saying that the donations were a means of disguising tax evasion.
The latest trial pointed out that the 25 defendants' acts of tax evasion were in different years and based on separate intentions, and hence should be punished separately.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel