Food fraud: Main suspect in Taiwan tainted oil scandal released on bail

Chang Guann Co chairman Yeh Wen-hsiang (葉文祥), one of the main suspects in the tainted oil scandal, was released yesterday on bail of NT$9.5 million (US$311,444).

guttenoil-aYen, who was detained on Sept. 12 after a court hearing, was ordered to report daily to the local police station near his home.

Chang Guann deputy general manager Tai Chi-chuan (戴啟川) was released on bail of NT$200,000 last week.

Tai and Yeh were charged with fraud and violating the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).

Another principal figure in the scandal, Kuo Lieh-cheng (郭烈成), remained in custody at the Pingtung Detention Center.

Kuo is the owner of an unlicensed cooking oil recycling operation in Jhutian District (竹田), Pingtung County. He is alleged to be the main supplier of tainted oil to Chang Guann, where it was converted into lard cooking oil, which was then sold to downstream edible oil and food processing companies.

During the hearing, authorities said Kuo admitted that the company used animal hide and carcasses from abattoirs and leather factories for extracting oil, as well as recycled frying oil from restaurants and eateries that had not been inspected by health and sanitation authorities.

“Yeh and Tai knew Kuo was supplying substandard oil that would not have passed any food safety examination. Yet they continued to buy from Kuo at a low price and sold it at a higher price. They made a profit of at least NT$38 million just from transactions from March to September,” Pingtung District Chief Prosecutor Yang Wan-li (楊婉莉) said.

Chang Guann CoYeh and Tai were quoted by Yang as insisting throughout the investigation that they did not know the origin of the recycled oil from Kuo.

However, Yang said that evidence pointed to the contrary, and prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence for them.

Also facing charges are the three principal owners of Ching Wei Co (進威公司) in Pingtung County, on allegations that they knowingly purchased substandard oil from Kuo for processing into animal feed and thus going into many consumer food products.