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Taiwan Probes Alleged Election Graft Linked to Foxconn’s Gou

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan is investigating suspected bribes connected to Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou’s presidential campaign, as the billionaire submits signatures to run in next year’s election.

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Thirteen people were questioned over suspected cash payments offered in exchange for signatures in support of Gou’s presidential bid, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said Wednesday.

Gou’s campaign has distanced itself from the suspects, repeating its earlier condemnation of illegal behavior.

“Signature drives should not involve exchanges of money,” Huang Shih-hsiu, a spokesperson for Gou’s campaign, said in a text message. “Any illegal act is not accepted.”

Gou submitted signatures to the Taipei City Election Commission on Wednesday afternoon, a day ahead of the deadline, in a bid to get on the ballot in the January election, the Central News Agency reported. Huang said Gou had provided more than the 290,000 signatures from eligible voters required to secure his candidacy as an independent, according to the report.

The Central Election Commission will announce by Nov. 14 whether Gou has enough signatures.

Taiwan’s election will shape US-China relations for years to come, as candidates hold differing views on the self-ruled democracy’s foreign policy. Beijing claims the island as its territory and hasn’t ruled out using force to take it. Policymakers in Washington are united in their desire to help Taipei thwart any potential attack.

The bribery investigation is the latest blow to Gou’s campaign. Chinese authorities has announced a probe of the tech giant he founded, which has since shed billions of dollars in market value. Rival candidates are also in talks to form an alliance that would further diminish Gou’s election prospects.

Prosecutors are investigating 12 cases of suspected bribes linked to Gou’s campaign, and have detained 15 people across Taiwan, according to United Daily News report. The bribes involved supporters of political parties also in the election race, according to the report.

--With assistance from Chien-Hua Wan.

(Updates with Gou’s submission of signatures from fifth paragraph)

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