Shilin court finds Barista Coffee executives guilty in fraud case

08/24/2022 02:45 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Aug. 24 (CNA) The Shilin District Court has found executives of Taiwanese beverage chain Barista Coffee guilty of fraud for misrepresenting the beans they were selling and sentenced them to short prison stays that can be commuted to fines.

The company was found to have mixed cheaper Robusta coffee beans into coffee advertised as being made with 100 percent Arabica beans in several products starting in 2018, the court said Tuesday.

It ordered that Barista Coffee's ill-gotten gains of approximately NT$18.29 million (US$605,970) be confiscated, and handed down sentences for two of its executives.

Barista Coffee's general manager Liu Tzeng-shyang (劉增祥) was given a six-month sentence that can be commuted to a fine of NT$3,000 per day and a two-year suspended sentence, and he was also ordered to pay an additional NT$3 million fine and perform 120 hours of community service.

Another executive, a factory manager surnamed Lee (李), was given a four-month sentence that can be commuted to a fine of NT$1,000 per day and a two-year suspended sentence.

He was also ordered to pay an additional NT$300,000 fine and perform 60 hours of community service.

Another of the defendents, a manager in the company's coffee roasting department surnamed Ho (何), was found not guilty.

In their indictment, prosecutors had alleged that the three individuals used Robusta beans to make up 13 percent or 26 percent of the beans used in several Arabica bean drinks since 2018.

They said the action violated Article 15 of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation, which prohibits selling adulterated or counterfeit food items, and also Article 255 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits misrepresenting merchandise.

The court, however, found Liu and Lee only guilty of violating the Criminal Code, because the Robusta beans were of the same caliber of the Arabica beans and using them did not constitute a food safety and sanitation violation.

(By Hsiao Po-wen and James Lo)

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