Surf Taiwan News, Browse the World »
16 years for Kao Chen-li in Tatung blended oil case
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-16 02:32 PM
The judge in the trial of Tatung Oil chairman Kao Chen-li imposed a sentence of 16 years in prison for Kao Monday while fining Chang Chi Tatung NT$50 million for its scheme to deceive and defraud consumers. The decision in the ‘black-heart’ oil case is somewhat less than what prosecutors had asked for, but still serves as notice that the government plans to crack down on the people behind the wide-ranging production and distribution of ‘blended’ oils that were advertised and labeled as pure oils and sold at premium prices.

Prosecutors found that Tatung had been importing large quantities of bona fide virgin oils from Europe and mixing them with cheaper ingredients to cut production costs, while setting prices at high levels. The case broke open in October with the discovery that the “100% pure” oils were in fact blends of expensive and cheap products, with the producers pouring in substances like cottonseed oil to give packaged products bulk, and in some cases adding copper chlorophyll to give the liquids the tinge of green that many consumers believe indicates quality in olive oil. Chang Chi Tatung chairman Kao Chen-li, head of mixing operations Wen Jui-bin and staff member Chou Kun-ming have so far been charged in the illicit operations, which supposedly were initiated as early as 2007 and netted huge profits for the company.

As the court hearings began, Wen and Chou pleaded guilty to the charges against them, while Kao held out that the only problem with the products was incorrect labeling, Kao maintained that he was innocent of fraud and repeatedly argued that Chang Chi’s margin of profit in selling the blended oils was actually quite low. Prosecutors took note that Kao’s poor attitude and reluctance to cooperate with investigators and recommended the strictest punishment stipulated for the offenses at 20 years in prison.

Changhua District Court spokesman Yu Shih-ming said that the three defendants had been found guilty of blending and distributing edible oil that was labeled and marketed as pure olive oil, a violation of the Act Governing Food Sanitation, as well as other violations related to fraud and financial crimes.

Yu added that the court ruled that accusations dealing with grape seed oil production on behalf of Taiwan Sugar did not involve the crime of fraud, and that part of the charges was dropped.

The court also ruled that Kao Chen-li’s guilty verdict and his background put him at high risk of flight and called him for him to be taken into custody immediately following sentencing. He will be held at the detention center in Changhua, and if his lawyer files an appeal he will be transferred to the High Court in Taichung. Kao’s court-appointed lawyer Lee Chin-chien protested that the court's decision was too heavy and said that Kao will certainly appeal the verdict and sentence.

The judge meted out sentences of 2 years and 10 months to Wen and Chou for their part in the scheme. The two were given suspended sentences of 5 years in light of their guilty pleas and willingness to work with authorities in piecing together the case against Tatung.

Of the three defendants, Chou Kun-ming was the only one to appear in court to hear the judge’s decision in the case.

HOME |  WORLD |  Politics |  Business |  Sports |  Lifestyle |  TAIWAN |  Technology |  Health |  SUPPLEMENT |  Society |  OPINION
  • Taiwan News  ©  2014 All Rights Reserved.