The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said yesterday that a pharmaceutical company linked to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had been fined for failing to avoid a conflict of interest when selling drugs to Taipei City Municipal Hospital.
Ma Yi-nan (馬以南) was deputy manager of China Chemical & Pharmaceutical Co (中化, CCPC) at the time of the sale, while her brother Ma Ying-jeou was Taipei mayor.
“The China Chemical & Pharmaceutical Co was fined NT$140 million [US$4.1 million] for violating conflict of interest regulations,” Kuan Kao-yueh (管高岳), director of the Department of Government Employee Ethics, told a press conference.
Kuan said that the city government purchased more than NT$90 million in pharmaceuticals from CCPC and another NT$50 million from a CCPC subsidiary in 1998 — during Ma Ying-jeou’s term as mayor.
Citing the Public Officials’ Conflicts of Interests Prevention Act (公職人員利益衝突迴避法), Kuan said the city government should not have had any business deals with Ma Yi-nan’s company.
The act stipulates that companies found to be in violation be fined one to three times the purchase amount.
The accusation first surfaced last February during the presidential campaign when then-Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) team accused Ma Ying-jeou of lying about his role in his sister’s business relations with Taipei City Municipal Hospital.
Hsieh’s campaign team said Ma Yi-nan had been granted sole distribution rights for drugs sold to the hospital.
At the time, Ma Ying-jeou denied the allegation, saying his sister was not involved in selling medicine to the hospital.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said yesterday that the president respects the ministry’s decision.
The CCPC said it would appeal the case with the Executive Yuan.
Kuan also said that when Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) served as deputy minister of national defense in 2004, his younger brother Tsai Ming-shiung (蔡明訓) was board chairman of Air Asia, and that the air company obtained a number of procurement projects and military plane maintenance projects from the military worth a total of NT$4 billion.
The ministry fined Air Asia NT$4 billion for the violation, Kuan said.
Kuan said the ministry thinks the act is too strict, and is contemplating an amendment.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday he was “opposed to amending the law for Ma Ying-jeou’s sake.”
If an amendement is needed, it should make the law stricter, not more lenient, he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER