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Taiwan probes Foxconn ex-employees over bribery claims

Taiwanese authorities launched island-wide raids to investigate allegations that some former managers at the technology giant Foxconn had solicited bribes from suppliers, prosecutors and the company said on Wednesday.

TAIPEI: Taiwanese authorities launched island-wide raids to investigate allegations that some former managers at the technology giant Foxconn had solicited bribes from suppliers, prosecutors and the company said on Wednesday.

More than a dozen people, including former employees, were questioned and at least one suspect was detained as investigators on Tuesday searched 19 locations including residences and offices of suppliers, local media said citing authorities.

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 "integrity of our employees and suppliers is something we take very seriously... The discovery that a small group of employees and suppliers violated our code of conduct is very disappointing," the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

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.

Taiwan's Apple Daily newspaper on Wednesday said a key suspect had allegedly pocketed around NT$100 million ($3.33 million) in kickbacks from suppliers by using his top position in a procurement committee that buys up to NT$50 billion of equipment a year.

In its latest statement, the company said the alleged violations were limited to the procurement of consumables and accessory equipment.

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.

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