Lien Hui-hsin (連惠心), daughter of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), was listed as a defendant yesterday for her role in a case involving her investment in a nutrition supplement company whose weight-loss pills were found to contain unauthorized drugs.
Previously listed as a witness, Lien Hui-hsin was subpoenaed yesterday evening as a defendant by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office after days of speculation about her role at Geneherbs Biotechnology Co (菁茵荋生物科技), whose weight-loss product Wellslim Plus+ was confirmed to contain banned substance, cetilistat, a lipase inhibitor designed to treat obesity.
The questioning was still ongoing at press time last night.
Her role has been in question since Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Juan Chao-hsiung (阮昭雄) first raised questions about the pills last week.
Lien Hui-hsin at first said she was only an endorser for the company and denied any involvement in the management of the firm.
After Juan and DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) broke the news about her NT$15 million (US$510,000) investment in the company as the majority shareholder with a 70 percent stake, Lien Hui-hsin later acknowledged the investment on Sunday in an interview, but insisted that her managerial role was only nominal and she did not run the company on a daily basis.
She is facing a sentence of up to two years for violation of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法) for using cetilistat in Geneherb’s products if her role as chief executive of the company is confirmed.
Yesterday morning the prosecutors’ office raided the offices of Wellcare Pharmaceutical Co (云丰生技醫藥), the manufacturer of Wellslim Plus+, for a second time, as well as the offices of a Wellcare subsidiary.
Agents from the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau questioned three defendants — Geneherbs general manager Tseng Hsin-yi (曾心怡), Wellcare chairman Huang Chen-kang (黃振康) and Wellcare research and development director Yeh Mei-keng (葉枚耕) — before transferring them to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for further investigation.
Meanwhile, prosecutors cited a report by the Taipei City Goverment’s Department of Health saying that 7Slim, another Geneherbs product, was also found to contain cetilistat.
In the interview on Sunday, Lien Hui-hsin questioned the timing of the probe as well as the extensive media coverage, saying that political influence could be a factor, while Lien Chan also came to his daughter’s defense on Tuesday, saying he did not want to see “any improper force influencing the authorities’ handling of the case.”
There have been rumors that the relationship between the Lien family and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has soured because of Ma’s perceived passiveness toward further investigations into the shooting of former Taipei EasyCard Corp chairman Sean Lien (連勝文), Lien Chan’s son, during a campaign rally in November 2010, as well as the election-eve shooting of then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on March 19, 2004, when they were running in a presidential election against Lien Chan and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).