Taiwan probes Foxconn founder Terry Gou’s presidential poll campaign over toilet paper bribes

Taiwanese authorities are investigating claims that Foxconn founder Terry Gou bribed people with toilet paper in his bid for presidency.

Anwesha Mitra
First Published3 Nov 2023
A campaign billboard featuring Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou on a building in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. Gou needs to gather some 290,000 signatures from eligible voters to secure his place on the ballot as an independent presidential candidate. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg
A campaign billboard featuring Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou on a building in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. Gou needs to gather some 290,000 signatures from eligible voters to secure his place on the ballot as an independent presidential candidate. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

Taiwanese authorities are currently investigating claims that Foxconn founder Terry Gou bribed people with toilet paper. The 73-year-old is currently attempting a presidential run and needed to gather 290,000 signatures by Thursday to qualify as an independent candidate. Officials however claim that Gou traded a carton of toilet paper for signatures as the deadline neared. 

The toilet paper case is among a dozen investigations launched over Gou's signature campaign. Prosecutors in western Yunlin county told AFP that they had already questioned 13 people and raided several locations on Wednesday in connection with the case.

Gou faces a jail term up to seven years as well as a fine up to Tw$10 million in case he is found guilty under Taiwan's election laws.

ALSO READ: Terry Gou resigns as Foxconn board member, seeking Taiwan presidency

Terry Gou had relinquished Foxconn's management reins four years ago and more recently stepped down as a board member to pursue his political aspirations. He had also triggered speculation in late October after disappearing from public life for several days amid a Chinese probe of the Taiwanese company. 

Unverified reports suggest that China was unhappy with Gou's decision to run for president as an independent – a move he announced in August this year. The English version of an article published by Global Times said that the billionaire would split the opposition vote and "in the end favour secessionist" Vice President Lai Ching-te – making the Taiwanese leader's victory more certain.

According to Taiwan officials, four suspects are believed to have offered the staff of a farmers association a carton of toilet paper worth around Tw$900 ($28). Prosecutors say this was traded for each of their signatures. 

Earlier on Thursday Gou's campaign office announced that over 1.03 million signatures had been filed.

(With inputs from agencies)

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