Customs, health officials suspected of shielding smugglers of tainted food: Agency

Customs, health officials suspected of shielding smugglers of tainted food: Agency

The Agency Against Corruption (AAC) yesterday revealed that Yang Jun-yuan, an official of the Taipei Customs of Customs Administration, and Chang En-shuo, an official of the Taoyuan City Department of Public Health, have allegedly been covering up for merchants smuggling tainted food products from Japan and Thailand into Taiwan.

The AAC was tipped off yesterday that illegal food products have been released onto the market with support from government officials. The AAC then discovered that three companies have imported more than 6,000 kilograms of unlicensed agricultural products into the nation, with a total market value of NT$10 million(S$433,000). They said that most products may have already been consumed.

The illegal products include seafood from Chiba Prefecture, Japan, from which the Taiwanese government has prohibited food imports due to the nuclear radiation in the area, as well as drug-tainted live crabs and asparagus from Thailand, according to the AAC.

Yang and Chang are suspected of leaking government information, shielding the smugglers, bribery, forgery, corruption, profiteering, making false customs declarations, avoiding drug tests, and switching unauthorized products ahead of inspections, according to the AAC.

Prosecutors Search Taipei Customs Office

Zhuo Jun-ji, a prosecutor of the New Taipei City District Prosecutors Office, yesterday searched 14 locations, including the Zhuwei branch of the Taipei Customs Office, as well as company offices and the residences of suspected accomplices. Officials collected relevant documents and evidence.

A total of 12 suspects were summoned yesterday to the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office, including Yang, Chang, two other government officials, Liao En-wei, owner of one of the firms under investigation, as well as other possible suspects, said Zhou, who elaborated that the investigation will be expanded further.

Yang allegedly admitted that he informed Liao of products that didn't meet customs standards so that Liao could prepare other products to switch with them.

Chang allegedly admitted to helping certain merchants gain illicit profits, however, he denied accepting bribes.

Investigate and Punish According to the Law: Cabinet

Later yesterday, officials of the Executive Yuan stated at a press conference that the case was sent to the ACC for investigation by the Customs Administration under the Ministry of Finance, and that all officials involved, either of the Taipei Customs Office or local health bureau, should be scrutinized according to the law and punished if any violations are confirmed.

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