Taiwanese Official in Kansas Charged for "Fraudulently Obtaining a Filipino Servant"

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston...Image via WikipediaVia DOJ:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a high-ranking representative of Taiwan was charged in federal court today with fraud in foreign labor contracting for fraudulently obtaining a Filipino servant for her residence.

Hsien-Hsien “Jacqueline” Liu, 64, of Taiwan, residing in Leawood, Kan., was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo. Liu is the director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office located in Kansas City, Mo. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office is part of the Taiwan organization responsible for maintaining close unofficial relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan. They are generally the equivalent of a consulate of a foreign government, but the United States does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state.

Today’s criminal complaint alleges that Liu fraudulently obtained an employment contract with a Filipino housekeeper, whom Liu then brought to the United States to work for her on a B-1 visa. Liu allegedly paid her significantly less than the contractual amount and forced her to work excessive hours and perform tasks outside the terms of the contract.

According to an affidavit filed in support of today’s criminal complaint, Liu hired a woman (identified as “Female Victim” or “FV”) who was living in the Philippines in November 2010. Liu signed an employment contract, which was used to obtain a B-1 visa for the victim. The victim arrived in the United States on March 5, 2011, the affidavit says, and began working for Liu the next day.

Once in the United States, the affidavit says, Liu paid the Filipino worker $400-450 per month, although the employment contract stipulated a salary of $1,240 per month. Liu allegedly required the victim to work six days a week, 16 to 18 hours a day, and forbid her to leave the house without permission. Under the terms of her employment contract, the affidavit says, she was to work no more than eight hours a day, 40 hours per week, and her presence was not required inside the residence except during working hours.

Liu took the victim’s passport and visa and would not return them, according to the affidavit. Liu allegedly told the victim that she was friends with local law enforcement and well known in the community, and threatened her with deportation. Liu monitored the victim from a video surveillance cameras she had installed inside her residence, the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, Liu was verbally abusive to the victim and had her conduct additional manual labor and personal services for Liu.

During a trip to the grocery store, the affidavit says, the victim located a Filipino inside the store and sought his help. The victim told him that she was trapped, and being underpaid and mistreated. He communicated with her at church, the affidavit says, but eventually Liu required that she work on Sundays so she was not able to attend. On Aug. 10, 2011, he helped the victim escape from Liu’s residence.

Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this complaint are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.

FocusTaiwan reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) lodged a strong protest “over the U.S. detention of a Taiwanese diplomat and demanded she be immediately released unconditionally.”  In the report, Foreign Affairs Minister Timothy Yang cited a 1980 agreement on privileges and immunities signed between Taiwan and the U.S. for Liu’s immunity.

“Before Taiwan forsakes immunity, U.S. law enforcement authorities cannot treat ROC diplomatic personnel that way,” Yang said.

He stressed that Liu still enjoyed immunity privileges under the pact, and said that even if U.S. law enforcement authorities have a case, they should still follow diplomatic channels and not “violate or ignore the agreement.”
Bruce J. D. Linghu, director of the MOFA’s Department of North American Affairs, called the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy here in the absence of diplomatic ties, and Deputy Foreign Minister Lyushun Shen called in acting AIT Director Eric Madison to express strong protests.

Focus Taiwan had a follow up report yesterday quoting Premier Wu Den-yih saying that “the recent detention of a Taiwanese diplomat in the U.S. city of
Kansas is irrelevant to Washington’s policy on Taiwan.”
The premier according to the report, also “urged Liu to be honest so that the ministry can get a full understanding of the situation.”

This case appears to be widely covered by Taiwanese media. Taiwan News posted what it says is a written response from the State Department on the issue of immunity:

In a written response to the inquiry about the U.S. stance on the
issue, the State Department spokesman said that under the 1980
agreement, Liu enjoys a status similar to that of consular officers.

“She has immunity only for acts performed within the scope of her authorized functions,” the spokeman wrote.


2012 GOP Presidentiables Debate Foreign Policy on TeeVee…Until the #NCIS Rerun

Leroy Jethro GibbsImage via WikipediaThe eight Republican presidential candidates were at the Benjamin Johnson Arena on Nov. 12, 2011 in Spartanburg, S.C. for the CBS News/National Journal commander-in-chief’s debate on foreign policy.

Politico was sorry to report that it was the “the worst kind of debate” since “nothing awful happened.”

“Rick Perry exhibited no brain freeze (at least no more than usual), Herman Cain did not stumble badly (at least no more than anybody else), Newt Gingrich did not attack the moderators (much) and the audience booed only once (when Ron Paul opposed torture).”

True, true … no “Oops!” moment there but they still said lots of stuff during the debate. Some quotes below which quite frankly, rocked the world:

Herman Cain on the Arab Spring:

“You have to look at Libya, Egypt, Yemen and all of the revolutions that are going on and how the administration has mishandled them,” he said. “As a result, this has gotten totally out of hand.”

Mitt Romney on Pakistan:

“Right now, they’re comfortable with our using drones to go after the people that are representing the greatest threat.” […] “We have an agreement with the people we need to have an agreement with to be able to use drones to strike at the people that represent a threat,”he said

Jon Huntsman on nation building:

“I say this nation’s future is not Afghanistan. This nation’s future is not Iraq,” Mr. Huntsman said. “I don’t want to be nation building in Afghanistan when this nation needs so desperately to be rebuilt.”

Jon Huntsman on torture:

“We diminish our standing in the world and the values we project, including liberty, democracy and human rights and open markets, when we torture.”

Rick Perry on foreign aid:

“The foreign aid budget in my administration will start at zero dollars,” he said. “Zero dollars. And then we’ll have a conversation.”

Rick Perry on China:

“Listen, there are some people who made the statement that the 21st century is going to be the century of China and that, you know, we’ve had our time in the sunshine. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that at all. As a matter of fact, you think back to the 1980s, and we faced a similar type of a situation with Russia. And Ronald Reagan said that Russia would end up on the ash heap of history, and he was right. I happen to think that the communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history if they do not change their virtues. It is important for a country to have virtues, virtues of honesty. And this whole issue of allowing cybersecurity to go on, we need to use all of our resources. The private sector working along with our government to really– standing up to cyber-command in 2010 was a good start on that. But fighting this cyberwar I would suggest is one of the great issues that will face the next president of the united states and we must win.”

Ron Paul on Iran:

“I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq.”

Ron Paul on the rule of law:

“So what are we doing here to accept this idea that our president, and
this lawlessness, to pursue? And that– we some day will be subject to
those same courts. So no, you don’t. You want to live
within– in the law and obey the law. Because– otherwise, it’s going to
be very bad for all– all of us. And– this whole idea that– now we
can be assassinated by somebody that we don’t even like to run our
medical care, and giving this power to the president to be the
prosecutor, the executor, the judge and the jury, we better look at that
carefully before you automatically endorse something like that.”

Michele Bachmann on waterboarding and the CIA:

“If I were president, I would use waterboarding,” she promised. “Barack Obama is letting the ACLU run the CIA!”

Newt Gingrich on GOP presidentiables’ qualifications:

“We’re here tonight to talk to the American people about why every single one of us is better than Barack Obama.”

Newt Gingrich on Syria’s Assad:

“Assad, who is our enemy, and is an ally and– of– of– of Iran, has had amazingly soft treatment by our State Department, as though they are afraid to make him feel bad. I would actively– approve– taking those steps would which– defeat his regime, which would probably be mostly covert. I don’t– I don’t think you need a no-fly zone. I think there are a number of steps you could take. And I think he would fall very rapidly.”

Oh, Cain and Bachmann said that they would favor waterboarding as an interrogation technique because well, it works. Period.

Also, there was that item where Romney and Gingrich agreed we’d go to war to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Perhaps their next debate should be held at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland?

If they talked about la guerra next door, in the Estados Unidos Mexicanos,we did not hear it.  A long list of people killed right there on our doorsteps.  How about the Canada-U.S. Keystone XL oil pipeline, that’s also next door, no? Did not hear that either.  Huntsman  and Perry did get asked about the European debt crisis, towards the end of the debate. Huntsman cited two problems for us, Perry says let the French and the German deal with that.  Perhaps Europe’s too boring because it’s across the pond never mind that it’s our top trading partner?

In any case, CBS recognized that a 90-minute debate on foreign policy is suffering, at least in this election cycle, from under-excitement.  Would anyone actually get a 3 a.m. phone call about job creation, because that’s what it will come down to?  But this is about the commander-in-chief’s quick reaction to those tricky foreign policy puzzles.  Exactly! So important that the last half-hour of the debate was streamed online, while the network returned to its regular programming, a rerun of “NCIS” with Leroy Jethro Gibbs! Um, Gibbs as write-in candidate?