Fifth suspect held in latest oil scandal


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Late yesterday, Kaohsiung prosecutors obtained court approval for the detention of Cheng-I Food Co.’s (正義食品) upstream oil supplier Lin Ming-Chung (林明忠). Lin is the fifth suspect to be detained over the tainted oil scandal that has rocked the nation.

Chiayi District Court on Sunday approved a prosecution request for detaining an executive of an oil company on suspicion of selling lard-based cooking oils that were made with oils used in animal feed. The Chiayi District Prosecutors Office asked the local court to approve the detention of Yung Cheng Oil Co. owner Tsai Chen-chou (蔡鎮洲) on fears that he may destroy evidence showing that his company sold animal feed oil to Hsin Hao Co (鑫好).

Hsin Hao is suspected of supplying questionable oil to Cheng I Food Co., a subsidiary of industry giant Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團) that has come under fire for selling edible oils containing oils not intended for human consumption.

Tsai was detained also because of concerns his company will continue to sell animal feed oil to local edible oil refiners in violation of food safety regulations, said Lin Kun-chih, spokesman for the district court. Chief prosecutor Tsai Ying-chun said Yung Cheng (永成物料公司) is suspected of having supplied Hsin Hao with animal feed oil for over two years, with the total volume possibly exceeding more than 10,000 tons.

Tsai was the fourth individual implicated in the scandal gripping Taiwan that prosecutors have wanted to take into custody.

Earlier in the day, three individuals, including a division chief at Changhua County-based Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial Co., were detained on suspicion of committing fraud and violating food safety regulations.

The three are Ting Hsin Oil & Fat quality chief Tsai Chun-yung (蔡俊勇), retired Ting Hsin Oil & Fat general manager Chang Mei-feng (常梅峰), and Yang Chen-yi (楊振益), who owned the trading company that sold oil for animal feed to the edible oil producer.

Ting Hsin Oil & Fat, another subsidiary of the Ting Hsin conglomerate, produced and sold 54 lard and lard-based edible oil products, and some or all of them may have contained animal feed oil.

During a meeting with Kuomintang (KMT) officials in Keelung, President Ma Ying-jeou said “the black-hearted” businessmen will “pay a dear price” for gaining illicit profits by unethical means. “I believe the prosecutors will pursue the case to the very end, and will never let slip off the legal net any black-hearted manufacturer,” said Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman.