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15 years in prison for Taiwan businessman in plasticizer scandal: Court
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2012-10-05 04:33 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A businessman was sentenced to 15 years in jail Friday for his part in last year’s plasticizer scandal, reports said, though an appeal was still possible.

Taiwanese food products were banned in several countries last year after it was revealed that diphthalate or DEHP might have been used in clouding agents added to products ranging from fruit jams and syrups to powders and pastry. The chemical can cause hormone malfunctions in children. More than 20,000 products were reportedly removed from the shelves during the scare.

The Taichung High Court on Friday reduced last December’s Changhua District Court sentence of 18 years in prison for Yu Shen Chemical Co. owner Lai Chun-chieh to 15 years in prison. His wife Chien Ling-yuan was sentenced to 12 years in prison, compared to 16 years last year, and Chin Tung Co. owner Pan Shu-lan received eight years instead of 12, reports said.

The High Court maintained fines of NT$24 million (US$820,000) for Yu Shen for manufacturing the dangerous clouding agents and selling them to unknowing food processing companies, and NT$16 million (US$546,000) for Chin Tung for selling the DEHP to Yu Shen over a period of ten years beginning in 1996. The latter’s customers mixed the clouding agents into their drinks and foods before selling them to consumers, but they were unaware of the presence of a toxic material in the clouding agents, the court said.

The three defendants could still appeal the High Court sentences, reports said.

In March, Chen A-ho, the owner of Jin Guoo Wang Food Co., was sentenced to 16 months in prison for selling fruit concentrates which included the plasticizer.

Prosecutors had requested 12 years in prison and a fine of NT$10 million (US$341,000), but the Taipei District Court in Shihlin ruled that Chen was only a middle man who had not put the plasticizer into his products. His two food companies were each fined NT$400,000 (US$13,600).

Chen’s companies did store products including plasticizers supplied by other manufacturers but did not have a criminal intent to harm consumers, the court ruled.

A company accountant was sentenced to ten months in prison, while the court acquitted Chen’s son and an employee.

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