Fri, Oct 03, 2014 - Page 1 News List

NAO budget threatened over probe

THREAT:Alex Fai told the auditor-general that his office’s budget request would not be passed until it completes an investigation into the use of NTUH’s MG149 account

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) yesterday urged Auditor-General Lin Ching-long (林慶隆) to closely examine National Taiwan University Hospital’s (NTUH) surgical intensive care unit’s MG149 account “or [the National Audit Office’s (NAO)] budget request will not be passed.”

Fai made the remark at a meeting of the Finance Committee at the legislature in Taipei.

The MG149 controversy was started by KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾), who early last month accused independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) of corruption, tax evasion and money laundering through his use of the MG149 account while serving as head of the hospital’s surgical intensive care unit.

Ko’s campaign office has repeatedly denied the allegations and said it welcomes an investigation into the account after Lo went to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and called for a probe.

Fai asked Lin yesterday whether the MG149 account is registered with the Ministry of Finance, to which Lin did not provide a yes or no answer, but explained that MG149 is an account established according to the NTUH’s regulations under its 402 special account, which has been registered with the ministry.

“There are more than 400 accounts under the 402 and they are registered with the hospital’s accounting office,” Lin said.

Fai told Ling that “there is no need for the complicated explanation” and pressed him for a simple yes or no answer to the question of whether the MG149 account is registered with the ministry.

Lin responded with a “No.”

The legislator cast doubt on donations made to the hospital’s special account, questioning Lin about whether it would be possible for corporations to directly donate to the MG149 account, bypassing the 402 account.

Lin said according to the hospital’s regulations donors could name the research projects they wish to contribute to and a receipt would be issued by the hospital.

“The money would be in the 402 and the accounting office would see to which account [the donations are to be distributed],” Lin said.

After admitting that the NAO does not have a list of the corporations who have donated to the hospital and the office “is still in the process of collecting [related information],” Lin was castigated by Fai.

“All of you are unqualified. It’s been such a long time since [the controversy] broke. Have all of you been fooling around and waiting to die?” Fai asked.

“Your budget request will not be passed until you have finished collecting the said information. Who are you trying to shield?” Fai said, adding that he was not making a threat, but voicing a lack of confidence in the agency’s efficacy.

“Corporations are selling drugs, consumables and equipment to hospitals. Their donations could be commission rebates or, worse, commissions. The physicians might not be receiving red envelopes anymore; they are now called donations. Is the NAO deliberately overlooking these?” Fai asked.

Meanwhile, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that NTUH superintendent Huang Guan-tarn (黃冠棠) would be summoned to a meeting on Monday to be jointly held by the Finance Committee and the Education and Culture Committee to report on the MG149 account.

However, KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福), the convener of the Finance Committee, denied that the meeting was being held to look into the controversy.

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