11/03/2014, 00.00
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Taipei, more food scandals: Industry giant Tinh Hsin in trouble

by Xin Yage
The company is charged with using non-edible oils for sale to businesses and the public. Prosecutors seek 30 years in prison for the general director. The ill-gotten gains amounted to almost € 30 million. Democratic Party accused of having protected the leaders.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - The scandals in the food sector in the Chinese world seem to have no end. In Taiwan, after the scandal of oil made from waste products by the Chang Guann Co. (強 冠), last week an even bigger company, the Ting Hsin (頂 新), was reported for the production of contaminated oil. The industry, of enormous proportions, is the largest network of oil supply to the catering industry in Taiwan.

Now the prosecutor is asking for 30 years in prison for Wei Ying-chung (魏 應 充), who was the director of the Ting Hsin Industrial Oil & Fat Co. (頂 新製 油 實業) and Wei Chuan Foods Corporation (味全 食品). The charges against him include fraud, corruption and sale of non-edible oil to businesses, supermarkets and restaurants on the island. His family has already prepared 300 million Taiwan dollars in bail (about € 8 million) for his release.

Investigators suspect, but the investigation is still ongoing, that the company profited from importing very cheap oil for livestock feed, refining it and then selling it as edible. It is estimated that Wei Ying-chung's firm has earned more than 450 million Taiwan dollars (12 million euro) from this illegal activity.

The company also failed to produce fiscal receipts for some earnings between 2006 and 2012, obtaining a further profit of $ 700 million (18 million euro) from this fraud.

On the back of this, pprosecutors are  also seeking a sentence of 25 years for the manager Chiang Mei-feng (常 梅峰). Chen Mao-jia (陳茂嘉) of Ting Hsing-Yi Chen and Yang (楊振益) of business-partners operating in Vietnam, could serve 18 years in prison.

Last week Ting Hsin officially apologized to the Taiwanese for all the damage created by the sale of contaminated oil and said it would cooperate fully with public officials to clarify all the details of the investigation. Meanwhile, the food distribution chain Dr. Chiang (江 醫師 追求 零 無 染 舖子) has already asked Ting Hsin for one billion Taiwan dollars (26 million EUR) as compensation for damages.

The scandal investigation also concerns the use of confidential documents by officials of the opposition DPP (Democratic Progressive Party, 民進黨) in power in the province of Pingtung,  home to the Wei Chuan Food Corporation. A secretary at the local Pingtung healthboard, Tsai Qing-rong (蔡青蓉) illegally revealed an internal document, sending it to Wei Chuan Foods Corporation. In this way the company was warned of the arrival of the official inspection.

This information and other data, according to Kuomintang officials (Nationalist Party, 國民黨), prove that the DPP had special links with the Wei family, to the point of wanting to protect their illegal activities. As the DPP in the south of the island has a majority consensus among the population, this is a huge blow to its credibility ahead of local elections on 29 November.


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