Prosecutors raid Taipei offices of Watson’s

The China Post staff

Taoyuan district prosecutors raided the Taipei offices of the Hong Kong based Watson’s drug store chain yesterday after reportedly receiving tips that the company was preparing to destroy evidence. The search came just one day after Watson’s issued a statement denying allegations by independent Legislator Lin Ruey-tou that the company was involved in insurance fraud. According to Lin, Watson’s filed insurance claims for merchandise that it claimed was damaged in the 9-21 earthquake. But in reality Watson’s had damaged their own merchandise, much of which was about to outlive its shelf live, Lin said. After filing insurance claims, Lin said, the company then turned around and sold the damaged merchandise at discount prices to wholesalers. Watson’s denied the allegations on Thursday, saying that the company had merely sold damaged products at discount prices to local wholesalers and retailers.

How those companies dealt with the damaged goods was not something that Watson’s could control, the company claimed in its written statement. But according to local reports, prosecutors in Taoyuan recently learned from a Watson’s employee that company management was coaching employees on how to respond should investigators come knocking at their door. The reports were apparently enough to raise fears that the company was preparing to destroy or cover up evidence, and prompted prosecutors to make the trip to Taipei to search the company’s main offices. Neither Watson’s employees nor the prosecutor in charge of the case, Huang Mou-hsin, were willing to comment on the search. Meanwhile, Legislator Lin came forth with more evidence that he said showed that some expired Watson’s products had made their way onto the market. Lin presented a letter from what he said was the owner of a company verifying that he had bought goods reportedly damaged in the 9-21 earthquake from Watson’s. According to the document, the buyer had discovered expired detergents, hair dyes, and health foods among the items he purchased. This, according to Lin, was evidence that Watson’s had let expired goods slip into local markets. The lawmaker, who has earned a reputation for exposing corruption, threatened to release further evidence regarding expired pharmaceuticals if Watson’s continued to ignore his claims. Lin went on to vow that he would fight it out with Watson’s to the finish in order to protect the health of local Taiwan people.