The prosecution of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien’s (連勝文) sister on charges of violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法) should be deferred, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said on Friday, recommending that Lien Hui-hsin (連惠心) be made to pay a NT$6 million (US$200,067) fine instead.
Prosecutors allege that Lien Hui-hsin was in charge of pharmaceutical company Geneherbs Biotechnology when its products were found to contain banned ingredients.
After initially denying any involvement in the firm’s management, Lien Hui-hsin admitted to prosecutors that she invested NT$15 million to start Geneherbs in 2008, but said that it was general manager Tseng Hsin-yi (曾心怡) who exercised full authority over Geneherbs. Yet prosecutors said they believed that despite lacking an official title in the company, she had absolute control over it.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
The prosecutors’ office said it doubts that Tseng, as a salaried company official, was in charge and that it believes she was the one who reported to Lien Hui-hsin on company affairs, not the other way around.
The prosecutors’ office yesterday also recommend that Tseng’s prosecution be deferred in exchange for being fined NT$4 million.
The office said that when prosecutors questioned Lien Hui-hsin for the third time in May, prosecutors explained to her the difference that her admitting guilt would have in terms of sentencing, as opposed to if she was found guilty by the court.
She and Tseng then agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a deferred prosecution, the office added.
The two were quoted by prosecutors as saying that they were guilty of not ascertaining the source of the materials used by the company that manufactured Geneherbs products, Wellcare Pharmaceutical Co.
The office said it felt the defendants were appropriately contrite about having broken the law and recommended that they be fined based on the principle of proportional responsibility as a condition for their deferred prosecution. According to the principle, Lien Hui-hsin would be given a fine equal to 60 percent of the total sales generated by the products in question — NT$10 million — with Tseng to pay the remaining 40 percent.
The office also said it plans to indict Wellcare for violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act.
Reacting to the recommendations by the Taipei Prosecutors’ Office’s, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the decision was clearly taken with political considerations in mind.
A fine barely constitutes a slap on the wrist and deferring prosecution would essentially enable the Lien family to resolve the matter by throwing money at the government, Tsai said, adding that NT$6 million is a drop in the ocean for them.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said the incident was a textbook example of politically-motivated decisionmaking.
Huang said the recommendations reflected the KMT’s attempt to lessen former Taipei EasyCard Corp chairman Sean Lien’s vulnerability to scandals to boost his low support ratings among the public, Huang said, adding that NT$6 million was a very cheap price to pay for sweeping the case under the rug.
From 2009 to October last year, Geneherds sold weight-loss products Wellslim Plus+ and Beauty Slim that were manufactured by Wellcare. The former was found to contain the banned substance cetilistat and the latter other unauthorized substances such as N-desmethylsibutramine, benzylpiperazine and sibutramine, prosecutors said.
Cetilistat and N-desmethylsibutramine are designed to treat obesity, but have been removed from the markets due to adverse side effects such as strokes.
THE CHINA CONNECTION: As Beijing’s aggression increases, so does Taiwanese consciousness, making a new constitution imperative, Hsu Wei-chun said If the nation is to ratify a new constitution, it must first end any illusions about the current document’s relevance to Taiwan, an academic told a forum in Taipei yesterday. For the constitutional revisionist movement to succeed, it needs public enthusiasm, the right timing and a clear plan of action, Chung Yuan Christian University associate professor Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) told attendees at the event titled “Imagining a New Constitution for a New Era,” which was organized by the National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association. The Constitution exists under the “one China” framework and has little relevance to Taiwan, Hsu said, adding that
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged Beijing to respect the median line of the Taiwan Strait by immediately stopping its military intimidation of Taiwan, as such actions would only hurt the feelings of Taiwanese. Beijing should immediately stop making military provocations against Taiwan, Ma wrote on Facebook after Chinese warplanes in the past week have made numerous forays across the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait. Although it has never officially acknowledged the median line, Beijing used to respect it, Ma said in response to comments on Monday by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌), who said
IDENTITY: The time is right to press on with a referendum, as the nation has heightened visibility and support in the global community, the Taiwan United Nations Alliance said The Taiwan United Nations Alliance yesterday said that it is considering launching a petition for a referendum proposal to have the nation join the UN under the name “Taiwan.” Alliance chairman Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) was joined at a news conference in Taipei by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Hsiu-fang (黃秀芳) and leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and civic organizations. They said that it is the right time for a petition because Taiwan’s visibility on the world stage has increased, as it has been praised for its success in containing its COVID-19 outbreak and for helping other countries by sharing
An advertisement displayed in the corridor of the underground Taipei City Mall has caused contention online with social media users saying that it depicts Taiwanese bears as servants of Chinese pandas. The advertisement — which imitates the style of an ancient Chinese painting, but replaces people with bears — shows a scene in imperial China, with Formosan black bears laboring, while pandas relax and enjoy beverages. “The development of the tourism industry is important, but this type of targeted advertising is extremely disrespectful — and it makes people uncomfortable,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chen E-jun (陳怡君) said. The advertisement, under