Taiwan tycoon starts 2-year jail term over food safety scandal

Ting Hsin misled consumers about its oil products: court

Ting Hsin tycoon Wei Ying-chun (in white shirt) preparing to enter prison. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – One of Taiwan’s wealthiest businessmen, Wei Ying-chun (魏應充) of the Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團), began a two-year prison term Friday for a food safety scandal which rocked the island.

The Intellectual Property Court found Wei, 60, guilty last April of ordering group employees to adulterate oil products and of providing false information to consumers. One product advertised as 100 percent olive oil actually contained only 1 percent of the oil, the court concluded.

Wei is one of four brothers who own Ting Hsin, a vast business empire with interests from the Master Kong instant noodles brand to a stake in Taiwan’s iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper. He also served as chairman of Wei Chuan Foods Corporation (味全食品), a brand known for its dairy products.

The tycoon showed up at the Taipei District Prosecutors Office Friday to begin his jail term, but he also spoke to reporters, saying he wanted to “walk out of hatred, confrontation and rumors.”

Just days earlier, rumors spread that Wei wanted to apply for medical parole due to health problems. His attorney told reporters Friday that the tycoon suffered from high blood pressure and that he had brought medicine with him to use in jail.

The attorney also claimed that Wei had not played a part in any food safety scandal, and that as a company chairman, he was unaware that the product labels did not reflect the true composition of the product.

The Taiwan High Court is still dealing with a different case of adulterated oil also involving Wei, who was found not guilty by the Changhua District Court.