Sat, Jul 01, 2006 - Page 2 News List

First family's doctor talks to investigators

MIDDLEMAN?Prosecutors suspect that Huang Fang-yen may have been a go-between who accepted Pacific Sogo gift vouchers on behalf of Wu Shu-jen

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Reporters yesterday surround the first family's doctor, Huang Fang-yen, as he walks into the Taipei office of the Bureau of Investigation.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The first family's doctor Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥) was summoned for questioning by prosecutors yesterday as a witness in the on-going investigation into the gift voucher scandal involving first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍).

Huang's testimony is believed crucial for prosecutors to decide whether or not to subpoena Wu.

"Prosecutors asked Huang if he had amassed a large number of Pacific Sogo Department Store vouchers and if he had passed those vouchers on to the first lady Wu," Taipei District Prosecutors' Office spokesman Lin Pang-liang (林邦樑) said yesterday.

Huang was swamped by reporters and cameras upon arrival at the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau yesterday morning.

He was questioned by bureau agents, and later in the afternoon, was taken to the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office to be questioned by prosecutors.

His testimony was completed last night at about 7:30pm.

The first lady has been accused of intervening in a Sogo acquisition deal and improperly accepting Sogo gift vouchers.

Huang, a deputy superintendent of the Shinkong Hospital in Taipei, was allegedly the middleman who accepted and delivered the gift vouchers to Wu from interested businessmen.

The gift vouchers were allegedly worth around NT$6 million (US$185,000).

Huang allegedly dined with the head of My Humble House Group Tsai Chen-yang (蔡辰洋), the former chief of Waterland Financial Holding Co Walter Lin (林華德) and Taiwan Financial Asset Services Corp chairman Hung San-hsiung (洪三雄) in 2002 September to discuss the Sogo deal.

In February 2003, Huang is said to have dined with Far Eastern Group chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東), Pacific Distribution Investment Co chairman Lee Heng-lung (李恆隆), Walter Lin, and former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男).

Hsu acquired ownership of Sogo in 2004.

The allegations against Wu have been denied by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who has said he would resign if any member of the first family had improperly accepted vouchers.

In his televised address to the nation last Thursday Chen reiterated that his wife had never directly accepted Sogo gift vouchers from Lee Heng-lung, former chief of the Pacific Group, Chang Min-chiang (章民強) or Hsu.

Huang took leave of absence from his job early this month and traveled to the US for health reasons, where he stayed at a friend's residence near Washington.

Huang's absence raised questions as to his unwillingness to face the judicial inquiry.

Huang returned to Taipei on June 23.

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