Foxconn ex-manager detained in Taiwan bribery probe

Foxconn ex-manager detained in Taiwan bribery probe

Taipei (AFP) - A former senior manager at Taiwan's technology giant Foxconn has been detained in an ongoing probe into kickbacks from suppliers, prosecutors said Thursday after reports he pocketed Tw$100 million ($3.33 million) in bribes.

Liao Wan-cheng was taken into custody late Wednesday, while three other ex-employees were questioned and released on bail, an official at the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office said.

A second man named as Hao Hsu-kuang was also detained Wednesday, the official said, accused of acting as a middleman between the former employees and suppliers.

The five suspects could face breach of trust charges, the official told AFP, an offence punishable by a minimum seven-year jail term if the amount in question exceeds Tw$100 million. None of the suspects has currently been charged.

Liao and Hao's detention comes after prosecutors questioned a dozen people on Tuesday and raided the ex-employees' residences and the offices of Foxconn's suppliers.

Taiwan's Apple Daily newspaper reported Wednesday that Liao had allegedly pocketed around Tw$100 million from suppliers by abusing his top position in a procurement committee that buys up to Tw$50 billion of equipment a year, though prosecutors are still investigating the amount of the alleged kickbacks.

Foxconn has said that the alleged violations were limited to the procurement of consumables and accessory equipment, and that the company alerted the authorities in both Taiwan and China following an internal audit.

The investigation is the latest setback for the company, which has come under the spotlight after suicides, labour unrest and the use of underage interns at its Chinese plants in recent years.

The allegations surfaced after Taiwanese media reported last year that a manager at Foxconn -- which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia -- had been detained by police in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

The Taiwanese manager allegedly solicited and accepted bribes from suppliers in exchange for buying their machines and equipment for the company, reports said, adding that this appeared not to be an isolated case.

Foxconn said at that time it was reviewing its acquisition procedures and the integrity of managers, and that its operations in China had not been affected.

Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai in Taiwan, is the world's largest maker of computer components and employs about one million workers at its factories across China.