Taipei, April 27 (CNA) The Intellectual Property Court on Thursday reduced the sentence of Wei Ying-chung (魏應充), former chairman of Ting Hsin Oil and Fat Industrial Co. (頂新) and Wei Chuan Foods Corp. (味全) who was found guilty of fraud in an oil adulteration scandal.
Wei was originally sentenced to four years in prison by Taipei District Court in the first trial, but following an appeal the Intellectual Property Court reduced his fraud sentence to two years in the second trial on Thursday. The ruling is final and cannot be further appealed.
In the final verdict, the Intellectual Property Court said Wei and his company, in an effort to cut costs and increase profits, changed the formula of its blended oil products and increased the percentage of cheap palm oil from 70 percent to 98 percent.
Only 1 percent of olive or grapeseed oil was used, but the product was marketed as a premium class of blended oil, the court said.
Palm oil has a higher concentration of saturated fatty acid and excessive consumption of the oil can cause cardiovascular disease, the court added.
In the final verdict on Thursday, former Ting Hsin Oil and Fat President Chang Mei-feng (常梅峰) was sentenced to one year and six months in prison for fraud, while Wei Chuan employee Lin Ya-chuan (林雅娟) received a sentence of one year and former Wei Chuan employee Lin Chin-hsing (林進興) was handed 10 months in prison.
The court also confiscated NT$32.93 million (US$1.09 million) in illegal profits from Wei Chuan.
The ruling is final and cannot be appealed because prosecutors charged Wei and the other defendants with fraudulent labeling of products, meaning that the case fell under the jurisdiction of the Intellectual Property Court.
Meanwhile, the Intellectual Property Court found Wei and the other defendants not guilty of charges that they knowingly used adulterated oil obtained from Chang Chi Foodstuff Co., overturning a guilty verdict issued by the district court last year.
There was not enough evidence to show that Wei and the other defendants had knowledge of or could reasonably foresee the oil adulteration, according to the Intellectual Property Court.
Ting Hsin, which made cooking oils, was found in late 2013 to have used adulterated oil obtained from Chang Chi Foodstuff Co. in its finished products since 2007.
Chang Chi used cottonseed oil and other cheap oils in its more expensive grapeseed and olive oil products, and in some cases, added copper chlorophyllin, a colorant used to make the substitutes look more like olive oil.
After hearing the ruling, Wei expressed regret through his lawyer Yu Ming-hsien (余明賢), who said they will consider appealing for a re-trial or filing for an extraordinary appeal or remedy after receiving the written judgment.
(By Lin Chang-shun and Christie Chen)ENDITEM/AW