Wed, Feb 13, 2019 - Page 3 News List

NPP’s Huang accuses health promotion office of graft

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Staffers at the Health Promotion Administration’s (HPA) Office for Smoking Cessation Services have stolen millions of New Taiwan dollars from taxpayers by faking purchases and recruitment, New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said yesterday.

“It is hard to believe that an agency responsible for managing cigarette surcharges has been pocketing the HPA’s subsidies,” Huang told a news conference in Taipei.

Since 2016, managers at the office have been applying for subsidies using receipts fabricated by companies, he said.

For every faked purchase, the office allegedly paid 5 to 11 percent of the reported cost to the companies, he added.

A review of the receipts that the office submitted to the HPA is enough to show that many of the purchases never took place, he said.

As an example, he showed a copy of a receipt for a software program the office purchased for NT$200,000 (US$6,487) and a copy of the transaction receipt that showed it only wired NT$20,000 to the company.

“You might think ‘how can they be that stupid,’ but the truth is they did not submit the transaction receipt to the HPA because they were stupid, but because their greed made them bold,” Huang said.

The transaction receipt was attached to a document applying for reimbursement for the NT$15 transaction fee, he said.

Other allegedly fake receipts included purchases of a NT$98,000 air conditioner and more than NT$100,000 for new carpets, he said.

“There were all kinds of things,” he added.

In addition, in 2017 and last year, the office’s managers allegedly hired relatives and friends as staff, and wired all their salaries into a personal account without requiring them to do any work, he said.

“Although I cannot give an exact number, the money they have illegally obtained is definitely more than a few million,” he added.

After learning about the alleged misdeeds from an office employee, he reported the matter to the HPA, but it has failed to take action, he said.

He urged the office to return its illicit gains to the government and called on the HPA to explain why it failed to address the matter.

He also urged it to hold off paying for the office’s subsidies.

Companies that provided fake receipts to the office should come forward, he said, adding that one of them is a “very famous polling company.”

The receipts appeared to be from October last year and the subsidy for that period has not yet been finalized, HPA Tobacco Control Division head Lo Su-ying (羅素英) said.

The HPA will quickly examine the receipts and investigate the allegations, Lo said, adding that it would mete out punishment according to the law if the allegations were proven to be true.

Additional reporting by CNA

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