Wed, Apr 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Court upholds bribe conviction

PAID HEALTHCARE:A former Department of Health official agreed to lower the standards for an exam center at a Taoyuan hospital in exchange for NT$1 million

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The High Court yesterday upheld corruption convictions for former senior public health official Huang Kun-chang (黃焜璋), former Keelung Hospital director Lee Yuan-fang (李源芳) and former Taipei Hospital deputy director Wang Chiung-lang (王炯琅) for receiving bribes related to hospital procurement programs.

Huang, who served as head of the Hospital and Social Welfare Organizations Administration Commission (醫療及社會福利機構管理會) at the then-Department of Health from 2008 until 2011, was handed a 15-year prison sentence and deprivation of his civil rights for five years.

Investigators said that Huang had supervised the procurement of medical equipment and supplies for state-affiliated hospitals costing more than NT$1 billion (US$34.26 million at the current exchange rate).

He was convicted of receiving about NT$2.5 million in bribes through bid-rigging and collusion with contractors who won public tenders for hospital procurement programs.

The court ordered Huang to repay the state the NT$2.5 million.

Lee was handed a 12-year jail term, deprived of his civil rights for five years and ordered to repay the state NT$1.4 million.

Wang was shown leniency and was handed a suspended sentence, is to be deprived of his civil rights for two years and ordered to repay the state NT$1 million.

It was the second ruling on the case, so the verdict can still be appealed.

Huang as commission chief oversaw public health procurement programs, approved budgets for state-affiliated hospitals, decided on public spending on pharmaceuticals and medicinal drugs, as well as supervised hospital operations and management.

Investigations began in 2010 after prosecutors received complaints of irregularities in hospital procurements and found evidence that a number of companies had an “unduly close relationship for financial benefit” with high-level health department officials.

Investigators started surveillance of suspects and uncovered company executives arranging private meetings outside of hospital grounds to hand over cash to health department officials, which investigators said was to avoid leaving a paper trail and to evade police.

Huang and other officials attended dinners at restaurants and played golf with corporate executives, where money would exchange hands, investigators said.

In one instance, a medical supply company had a contract to set up a physical examination center at a Taoyuan hospital, but the company could not fulfill the terms of the agreement, which was to expire in November 2011.

Company executives went through an intermediary to pay Huang NT$1 million, for which agreed to demand that the hospital alter its evaluation standards and renew the company’s contract at the end of 2011, investigators said.

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