The Control Yuan yesterday charged former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) with dereliction of her duties when she facilitated government investments in Yu Chang Biologics Co (宇昌生技) in 2007.
Control Yuan members Ma Yi-kung (馬以工), Yeh Yao-peng (葉耀鵬), Ma Hsiu-ju (馬秀如) and Lee Ful-dien (李復甸) called a press conference yesterday to publicize their investigation report on the Yu Chang case.
The case emerged in the run-up to the presidential election in January last year, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) accused Tsai, then the DPP presidential candidate, of playing an improper role in the formation of Yu Chang Biologics Co, now known as TaiMed Biologics Inc (中裕新藥).
In August last year, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division closed its investigation into the case, finding no evidence of wrongdoing against Tsai.
Tsai was then accused of corruption because she approved separate government investments of NT$875 million (US$29.6 million) and US$20 million — about NT$1.4 billion in total — for the biotechnology start-up before leaving office as vice premier, and later served as Yu Chang chairperson.
Ma Yi-kung dismissed speculation about the timing of the report’s release — at a time when President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and the KMT are embroiled in what has been termed the “September political strife” — saying that the meeting to review the report had been scheduled for Sept. 4, before the case at the center of the political strife came to light on Sept. 6.
In the report, the Control Yuan members concluded that it was “obvious” that Tsai’s actions “constituted dereliction of [her] duties” in approving government funds to be invested in Yu Chang Biologics.
The appropriation procedure through which the then-DPP government decided to authorize the investment was processed by a handful of people in the government, which was an unusual practice, the report said.
Tsai approved the investments without seeking then-premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) views when the US biotech giant Genentech, then a potential partner of Yu Chang Biologics Co, proposed a less favorable cooperation plan with the new company compared with its previous proposal, which Su had agreed to, the report said.
When asked to specify irregularities involving Tsai that they discovered in the investigation, Ma Yi-kung said the Control Yuan would send its investigation report to the Ministry of Justice.
The four Control Yuan members proposed that the Executive Yuan and the Council for Economic Planning and Development, in charge of the government funds, be censored over the case and the motion was adopted.
The investigation by the four Control Yuan members began in February last year.
The Yu Chang case was also probed by the Anti-Corruption Committee of the Control Yuan. The committee closed the case in February, finding no evidence that Tsai committed any irregularities under the Public Officials’ Conflicts of Interest Prevention Act (公職人員利益衝突迴避法).
Tsai’s office yesterday said the Control Yuan’s report was flawed and appeared to be a tactic by the Ma administration to shift the focus away from its own ongoing political turmoil.
At a press conference, DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) announced a four-point statement on behalf of Tsai, who did not attend the press conference, saying that the Yu Chang case was a discreditation campaign Ma had orchestrated for personal political gain during the presidential campaign in 2011, and which ended up hurting Taiwan’s biotech industry.
“We suspect the Control Yuan has become a political tool of the Ma administration, which has infringed on the constitutional mechanism and launched a political purge, and tried to portray Tsai and other DPP members as corrupt politicians,” Chen said.
The conclusion of the report had several fatal mistakes, lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said.
The report accused Tsai of having unilaterally approved the National Development Fund investment in Yu Chang Biologics without informing Su.
However, the document Tsai had approved was only a progress report on the negotiation of the investment plan, and the final approval of the plan was approved by former premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) after Tsai and Su left the Cabinet in September 2007, Koo said.
“This case has been spreading rumors from the first minute and the Control Yuan’s report was ridiculous,” Koo said, adding that the report seemed to be a vicious attempt to sow dissension between Tsai and Su, who many believe will be fighting for the DPP’s nomination for the next presidential election.