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Changchi chairman receives prison sentence of 16 years

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Changhua District Court yesterday morning sentenced Tachung Changchi Foodstuff Co. (大統長基食品) Chairman Kao Cheng-li (高振利) to 16 years in prison on charges of fraud and violations of the Act Governing Food Sanitation.

The court also fined Changchi NT$50 million and sentenced Changchi employees Wen Rui-pin (溫瑞彬) and Chou Kun-ming (周昆明) to two years and 10 months in prison. Their sentences can be delayed for no more than five years.

Detention to Prevent Kao's Escape

While the court was announcing the sentence, it concurrently ordered the arrest of Kao to prevent him from fleeing the country. Kao was in the process of reporting to a police station in accordance with the terms of his previous bail deal when two police officers arrived to arrest him.

The court explained that it was necessary to detain Kao as it had just levied a severe punishment against him, and Kao's family still has a large amount of cash. It was deemed that Kao was at risk of fleeing the country before beginning his prison term.

Kao's lawyer Lee Chin-chien (李進建) said the harsh punishment levied on Kao was an attempt to meet society's expectations, noting that Kao only violated the Act Governing Food Sanitation by mislabeling Changchi's oil products and did not commit fraud. Lee added that Kao will appeal the ruling.

In October, Changchi was discovered to have adulterated its oil products by allegedly mixing cottonseed oil into so-called “pure” olive oil products. The firm was later charged with adding sodium copper chlorophyllin, an additive that is not allowed to be added to cooking oil products, to its oil.

NT$1.85 Billion Won't Be Confiscated

The Changhua Court denied prosecutors' requests to confiscate Changchi's illegal income of NT$1.85 billion. The court explained that given the firm's currently negotiations with its employees and retailers, it will have to handle compensation matters with its consumers in the near future, providing justification for holding off on a full-scale confiscation of Changchi's illegal income for the time being.

Changhua DOH to Collect Fine

The Changhua County Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said the court's ruling will not affect the DOH's ongoing attempt to collect a NT$1.85 billion fine from Changchi.

The DOH earlier in October levied the NT$1.85 billion fine at Changchi, and on Dec. 3 requested the Administrative Enforcement Agency of the Ministry of Justice collect the fine from the firm.

The DOH said it previously worried that if the court confiscated the firm's assets then the firm would probably not be able to pay the fine to the health department.

The department said once prosecutors release Changchi's seized assets, the Administrative Enforcement Agency will immediately take the fine.

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Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Co. Chairman Kao Cheng-li, center, is arrested at a police station yesterday in Changhua County. The Changhua District Court yesterday sentenced Kao to 16 years in prison on charges of fraud and violations of the Act Governing Food Sanitation. (CNA)

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