TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Pingtung District Prosecutors Office (臺灣屏東地方法院檢察署) yesterday charged eight individuals with violating the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).
Following investigations, prosecutors officially found corrupt oil manufacturer Kuo Lieh-cheng (郭烈成) and Chang Guann Co. (強冠企業) Chairman Yeh Wen-hsiang (葉文祥) guilty of food sanitation law violations.
The office also charged six other individuals, including Chang Guann Deputy General Manager Tai Chi-chuan (戴啟川), the three managers of animal feed manufacturer Ching Wei Co. (進威) - Su Chin-wei (蘇進威), Su Ching-huang (蘇清煌) and Kuo Chun-yeh (郭春葉) - as well as Kuo Lieh-cheng's employee Shih Min-yu (施閔毓) and businessman Huang Hui-kuang (黃惠光), who was found to have sold oil from processed leather to Ching Wei Co.
Kuo Lieh-cheng, Yeh, Tai and Shih received heavier sentences and were charged with a total of 235 counts for criminal complicity and fraud. According to the prosecution, offences of fraud are subject to incarceration between one and seven years, while a criminal complicity conviction warrants no less than three years.
With the heavy sentencing sought by prosecutors, the four primary suspects could face a combined maximum penalty of 2,350 years in prison.
The prosecution was quoted as saying that Chang Guann sold tainted edible oils produced using Kuo Lieh-cheng's contaminated lard oils to 235 companies from March 1 to Sept. 2 this year. As 235 companies bought the oil, the suspects face 235 counts of felony charges.
Suspects Deny Crime
The prosecution stated that all four of the primary suspects pleaded not guilty to their respective charges. In the case of Yeh, the oil company CEO has been in business for over 20 years.
In the intervening years, Yeh was found to have cooked the books of the company, along with other misdemeanours. However, Yeh merely apologised for his negligence in the oil pollution case and showed no sign of guilt.
Tai, the prosecution stated, was aware of the contamination and defectiveness of Kuo Lieh-cheng's oil products. However, Tai was recorded to have ordered quality control personnel to continue purchasing the oils under a special purchase category.
The prosecution also reportedly provided surveillance evidence in which Tai colluded with Kuo to protect Chang Guann from facing criminal charges.
As the evidence points toward several individuals involved in collusion, and four main suspects have not shown any sign of remorse, the prosecution is seeking the highest penalty possible in hopes of bringing justice to the victims.
The maximum combined sentence has been confirmed to exceed 1,000 years.