Taiwan's Ministry of Justice has reported an increase in the use of Bitcoin for bribes. Cash is no longer the only form of payment in corruption cases; Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital currencies are gaining popularity among corrupt individuals.
Authorities have expressed concern that these virtual coins could be used as a means to bribe people ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Taiwan is currently scheduled to elect a new president in mid-January 2024.
The Department of Justice stated that bribing dishonest officials is not limited to money, as fraudsters are constantly adapting their methods. It has become clear that prior to the election, bribes to such people are being paid using mobile electronic payment methods such as Line Pay, Pi Wallet, Jiekou and Oufubao, in addition to virtual currencies.
Data from Taiwan's Supreme Prosecutor's Office showed that the number of corruption-related incidents after last year's municipal elections was only 1,335. More than 700 people have been prosecuted for election-related offences.
A number of former Taiwanese executive officials, former central government officials, a mayor, a city council speaker and a deputy speaker were found to have received bribes. It emerged that some of these officials received remuneration in Bitcoin and other digital money.
In June this year, Taiwan Mobile, one of the country's largest telecommunications companies, began talks with several cryptocurrency companies with the intention of boosting their joint efforts to prevent bribery transactions through its network.
Taiwan's authorities also plan to allow banks to trade virtual currencies as a way to bolster their digital infrastructure, as more and more people here are using cryptocurrencies.
The Ministry of Justice will remain vigilant in cracking down on any attempts to buy off officials with Bitcoin or other digital assets.