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Ting Hsin under strict scrutiny by tax inspectors: finance minister

2014/10/15 20:16:19

Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Oct. 15 (CNA) Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford pledged Wednesday that tax inspections of the Ting Hsin International Group, at the center of an expanding food safety storm, will be strengthened after the enterprise was found to have not paid its taxes in full.

"Businesses that earn money from selling substandard foods will definitely also be taking money from the government," Chang said while answering reporters' questions on whether the scandal-ridden business group had evaded taxes. He was implying that companies lacking ethics and willing to swindle their customers will be just as likely to be fraudulent on tax issues.

He pointed out that Ting Hsin was already scrutinized by tax inspectors last year when its oil-making unit, Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial Co. was exposed as having purchased, intentionally, low-cost oils colored with copper chlorophyll before disguising them as pure grape seed and olive oils.

At that time, the Ting Hsin group was told to make up a shortfall of about NT$400 million (US$13.6 million) in taxes it had failed to report, the minister said.

Now, the tax inspection targeting the notorious enterprise will continue to be carried out at full strength, he said.

At a hearing of the legislative Finance Committee earlier in the day, Chang reiterated the government's stance that it will not let Ting Hsin acquire the power to run the Taipei World Financial Center, commonly called Taipei 101.

According to the Ministry of Finance, government-controlled banks own a 44.35 percent stake of Taipei 101, while Ting Hsin is the largest private shareholder, with a stake of 37.17 percent. Other private shareholders include Cathy Financial Holdings with a 7.73 percent stake and CTBC Holding with 6.12 percent.

While the Taipei 101 board and supervisor members are set to be renewed next year through a shareholder vote, there have been rumors that Ting Hsin is trying to purchase more stakes from other private shareholders so that it can win the power to run the landmark skyscraper.

However, Chang stressed that the government will strengthen its contacts with private shareholders other than Ting Hsin. "And in the current atmosphere, I do not think they will sell their stakes to Ting Hsin," he said.

(By Wu Ching-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)

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