Taichung supplier detained for allegedly selling counterfeit masks
Taichung and Kaohsiung, Sept. 24 (CNA) The owner of a company in Taichung was detained and questioned by prosecutors Thursday, on suspicion of importing non-medical grade masks from China and labeling them as made in Taiwan.
The suspect, surnamed Lin (林), is alleged to have sold about 1 million falsely labeled masks to pharmacies, suppliers and local consumers, earning NT$4 million (US$136,420) in the process, according to the Taichung District Prosecutors Office.
During a raid carried out on Sept. 21, investigators seized 12 boxes of masks and account books, and questioned Lin on suspicion of fraud, prosecutors said.
Chong Kuang Co., Ltd., which is located in Taichung's Dali District, was found to have imported 5.5 million masks from China in June, and subsequently collaborated with certified medical company Lih Yow, based in central Taiwan, to sign a fake business contract that allowed it to use the firm's brand on the packaging.
Meanwhile, Lin also sold some of his Chinese-made masks to another distributor, which sold the counterfeit masks on the domestic market labeled as produced by Lih Yow.
The distributor, surnamed Chi (紀), was interrogated and released on bail of NT$150,000, after investigators searched the company's premises on Sept. 16, prosecutors said, adding that the owner of Lih Yow, surnamed Chen (陳) who knowingly participated in the scheme, has been questioned and released on bail of NT$50,000.
However, considering the gravity of the case, and the possibility that he could continue to commit fraud if released, Taichung prosecutors said Lin will remain in custody as the investigation continues.
These developments came as pharmacies across Taiwan began selling surgical face masks embossed with the letters "MD" and "MIT," in a bid to comply with government efforts to prevent fraud.
The policy, which took effect Thursday, requires that all surgical masks pre-ordered through the National Health Insurance (NHI) system carry the imprint "MD" (Medical Device) and "MIT" (Made in Taiwan).
Meanwhile, in separate news, Kaohsiung-based company Jing Sing has been found to have acquired new production equipment to boost its face mask capacity at a separate production location, without prior government approval.
Jing Sing is one of the manufacturers on the National Face Mask Team that produce Taiwan-made masks for the domestic market and for export.
The owner has been questioned and released on bail of NT$300,000, Kaohsiung prosecutor Wang Po-tun (王柏敦) said, noting that the owner had been questioned after several pieces of equipment and materials were seized at the site on Sept. 22.
Jing Sing has been found to have set up an illegal side factory and installed more manufacturing machines that its current permit allows, Wang said.
Kaohsiung authorities said they are continuing to investigate where the plant's materials came from.
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