Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-10-31 06:15 PM
At the heart of the case was Lien’s role at Geneherbs Biotechnology Co., the company accused of having distributed weight-loss capsules containing the unauthorized drug cetilistat.
Shortly after the start of Lien’s questioning at the Taipei District Prosecutors Office Wednesday evening, her attorney revealed that she had been listed as a defendant, as opposed to the status of witness she had held until then.
The key to the investigation was the role Lien played at Geneherbs, reports said. The latest media coverage said she owned a stake of 70 percent in the company, a marked contrast with her initial claims that she only promoted its products free of charge.
Under pressure from revelations by opposition lawmakers and media, she slowly changed her story over the past weeks, first saying she had accepted a nominal executive position at Geneherbs. Legislators presented pictures to the media which showed Lien signing an agreement with a company in China in the capacity of company president.
She could face a maximum of seven years in prison, but if she is found to have known about the use of cetilistat, that sentence could run to a maximum of ten years, reports said.
Lien left the prosecutors’ office in the early hours of Thursday morning after more than four hours of interrogation. Confidants complained that the questioning should have been held during daytime to respect her position as mother of three children, but her father, a former vice president, did not make any comments to the media Thursday.
Earlier in the week, he told reporters that he did not exclude the possibility of a political struggle behind the investigation into his daughter.
Separately Thursday, the Taipei District Court turned down a request from prosecutors to detain Huang Chen-kang, the head of the capsules’ manufacturer, Wellcare Pharmaceutical Co., and Yeh Mei-keng, the head of the company’s research and development branch.
The investigators said the two managers had hidden the inclusion of the unauthorized drug in the production of the weight-loss capsules, while they also needed to be detained because other suspects were still unaccounted for. Prosecutors said they would file an appeal against the court decision to release the duo.
The person still missing was Hsing Wen-hsiang, who cooperated with Yeh on the production process of the Wellslim Plus capsules, reports said.
New evidence reportedly turned up after a second raid on their offices Wednesday showing they had not told the truth during earlier rounds of questioning, investigators said.
The case also attracted widespread public interest because Lien Hui-hsin’s brother Sean Lien is believed to be preparing a bid for mayor of Taipei City in the December 2014 elections. A highly publicized trial for his sister could damage his chances, commentators said.