From 2008, when the Lobbying Act came into force, until now, the Ministry of the Interior has not imposed a fine on people who fail to register their lobbying. This might be because it has no way of knowing if lobbying is being conducted secretly and even if it learns of unregistered lobbying, the lobbyists may still remedy their mistake by filing a registration upon notification by the Ministry. It may also be a sign that the enforcement of the act is weak.
With regard to the Political Donations Act, in the event that a person planning to participate in a campaign accepts political donations from sources that are prohibited by law, fails to hand in donations to the declaration authority (to be deposited into the national treasury) that are not compliant with the law after having also failed to return the donations to the donation giver, or collects political donations by issuing fixed-maturity, indeterminate, interest-bearing or interest-free bonds or other securities to unidentifiable persons, he or she shall be condemned to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years; this shall also apply to agents or employees who accept or collect political donations for persons planning to participate in campaigns, as well as to the principals, representatives, agents, or employees of political parties or political associations.
In addition, according to the Political Donations Act, a person planning to participate in a campaign shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, and may be fined a sum of not less than NT$200,000 and not more than NT$1 million if he or she accepts political donations without obtaining permission to set up a dedicated account for acceptance of political donations, as required by law. This shall also apply to agents or employees who accept or collect political donations for a person planning to participate in campaign, as well as the principals, representatives, agents or employees of political parties or political associations.
Moreover, any individuals or associations that are not political parties, political associations or persons planning to participate in a campaign that accept political donations shall be fined a sum double the amount of the donations accepted. The same punishment applies to any person who accepts political donations that are contributed for or in the expectation of undue benefits, or who accepts political donations during periods prohibited by law. The spouse, children, relatives specified by law or dependants sharing property and living with people planning to participate in campaigns, who illegally accept political donations shall be fined a sum triple the amount of the donations accepted. The donations shall be confiscated, and if all or a part of the donations cannot be confiscated, a sum equal to the value shall be replevied.
Additionally, anyone who acts as a broker in or encumbers the contribution of political donations by utilising official power, an employment relationship or other factors shall be fined a sum of not less than NT$200,000 and not more than NT$1.2 million. If a civil servant commits one of the above acts, he or she shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than one year.
Furthermore, anyone who contributes political donations for or in the expectation of undue benefits shall be fined a sum double the amount of the donations given. Any person who: contributes in the name of others; contributes an anonymous donation of more than NT$10,000; contributes a monetary donation in excess of NT$100,000 but fails to pay by cheque or bank transfer, except for donations contributed in his or her will; is not allowed to contribute political donations but still makes contributions; or contributes political donations exceeding the amount set by the law, shall be fined a sum double the amount of the donations accepted.
A recent notable sanction was imposed on a former City Council Speaker, the lead legislator at the city level. He was found to have received political donations prior to obtaining permission to set up a dedicated account for accepting political donations as required by law and he also failed to deposit the political donations into the dedicated account for specific use after he obtained permission for the account. Thus, he was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for six months, which can be converted into a fine.
In this case, the Control Yuan conducted an investigation and imposed a fine of NT$1 million on the donation giver based on the fact that the amount of the political donation made by the giver exceeded the maximum limitation, and that the giver violated the regulation stipulating that a monetary donation that exceeds NT$100,000 must be paid by cheque or bank transfer. Although the giver launched an appeal, the Taipei High Administrative Court upheld the Control Yuan’s decision.
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