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Latest scandal dredges up earlier indictment against Ting Hsin Oil

2014/10/13 23:11:06

Taipei, Oct. 13 (CNA) Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial Co., one of the companies at the heart of a recent edible oil scandal, had already been indicted by the Pingtung District Prosecutors Office well before the latest revelations surfaced, the office said Monday.

The indictment against Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial and three of its executives was handed down on Aug. 21 and covered charges of fraud, faking product labels and violating food safety regulations, charges dating back to an oil scandal exposed late last year.

Prosecutors said Ting Hsin Oil & Fat, a subsidiary of the Ting Hsin Industrial Group, purchased low-cost oils from Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co. that contained artificial coloring and cottonseed oil but were marketed as more expensive products.

It then processed those oils and also sold them as high-priced pure olive oil or grape seed oil, making illicit gains, prosecutors said.

Chang Chi Foodstuff's scheme to pawn off cheaper oils as more expensive ones was not publicly exposed until last October, when the Ting Hsin Group's flagship Wei Chuan brand was also found to have sold the adulterated oil products for several years.

After an investigation, prosecutors determined that Ting Hsin Oil & Fat was selling its adulterated oils to Wei Chuan on a contract basis.

Ting Hsin Oil & Fat's fat refinery chief Chen Tsung-pi, the company's Pingtung County factory manager Tzeng Chi-ming and the company's quality chief Tsai Chun-yung were indicted for the alleged violations.

In the indictment, prosecutors alleged that the three knew the oils the company bought from Chang Chi were adulterated, yet continued to purchase and ship them to the Pingtung factory to be processed and packaged for Wei Chuan.

Prosecutors have asked the court to give them the maximum possible sentences because they "showed no remorse for the offenses."

They also recommended that the company be fined NT$51.08 million (US$1.68 million), the amount prosecutors estimated Ting Hsin Oil & Fat made illicitly by using Chang Chi oils, the office added.

Among the three men indicted, in August, Tsai was also detained in Chiayi County on Sunday on suspicion of committing fraud and violating food safety regulations in the latest scandal involving the Ting Hsin oil-producing unit, which was discovered to have made and marketed adulterated lard-based oils mixed with oil meant for animal feed.

Former Ting Hsin Oil & Fat and Wei Chuan Chairman Wei Yin-chun is now under investigation by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office.

(By Kuo Chu-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)

Related stories:
●Oct. 13: President vows to clean up food industry
●Oct. 12: Fifth suspect detained in edible oil scandal
●Oct. 11: Boycott of Ting Hsin products gains further momentum