Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-10-30 02:50 PM
Her role in the sale of a weight-loss supplement containing an unauthorized drug was at the heart of the investigation.
Lien waved at reporters but didn’t speak as police led her inside. Asked whether she had been listed as a defendant, one of her attorneys told reporters that a witness would not be accompanied by attorneys but a defendant would, indirectly confirming that her status had changed.
A second round of testing reportedly completed earlier this week again showed that the Wellslim Plus capsules contained cetilistat, a drug which had not yet been authorized for distribution in Taiwan.
As a result, the Taipei Prosecutors Office launched new searches of company offices Wednesday morning, reports said. Lien was summoned for questioning and arrived at the prosecutors just before 7 p.m. Wednesday in the company of attorneys and aides.
The daughter of the prominent politician repeatedly changed her story as the investigation developed over the past few weeks. At first, she claimed to be an unpaid promoter of the product who only lent her picture to the effort. After doubts about her role at Geneherbs, she later claimed she had been listed as company CEO purely as a promotional move.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Ying-yuan and Taipei City Councilor Juan Chao-hsiung presented pictures of Lien signing agreements with Chinese companies on behalf of Geneherbs and in the capacity of company chairperson. Media also reported that she had an office at the company headquarters and that there was evidence that she regularly worked there.
In the end, she reluctantly acknowledged that she had invested in Geneherbs and was more than just a temporary promoter of its products. Lee and Juan demanded she offer a public apology to Wellslim Plus users and come clean about her precise role at the company.
Lien’s status could have an impact on an eventual verdict if she is charged, reports said. A promoter would face a maximum prison sentence of three years, but a company executive could be sentenced to seven years, according to media reports.
The prosecutors’ questions expected later Wednesday were likely to focus on that role in order to determine her responsibility in the violations of laws regulating the sale of medicine, reports said.
During the morning, Geneherbs CEO Tseng Hsin-yi and two other defendants who had been released on bail earlier in the investigation faced questioning about the latest developments, reports said.
According to a report published by Chinese-language Next Magazine Wednesday, an independent testing company found cetilistat in the capsules as far back as February, throwing doubt on Lien’s statements that she did not know about the presence of the unauthorized drug. The company denied the accusation and said it might take legal action against the magazine. Geneherbs said it had not worked with the testing company mentioned in the article.
On Tuesday, her father, who also serves as honorary chairman of the ruling Kuomintang, said he did not rule out that there might be a political motivation behind the criticism of his daughter. He defended her efforts to do business and to provide a service to the public. Lien also told reporters he had been taking the Geneherbs capsules and had felt no side effects.
Premier Jiang Yi-huah denied any political interference in the case, while other politicians doubted the investigation was anything more than just judicial action against violations of drug laws.
The case also attracted attention because Lien Hui-hsin’s brother Sean has been considering a run for mayor of Taipei City in elections planned for December 2014. He has been leading opinion polls, even though he has reportedly not made up his mind yet.