Gutter oil scandal executive sentenced to 22 years in prison

Yeh Wen-hsiang found guilty of 285 food safety violations

Chang Guann chair Yeh Wen-hsiang drinking edible oil at the time of the scandal. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – One of the key businessmen involved in the 2014 “gutter oil” scandal saw his prison sentence of 22 years confirmed after the Supreme Court rejected his final appeal Wednesday.

Yeh Wen-hsiang (葉文祥), the chairman of Chang Guann Co., Ltd. (強冠), was found guilty of using lard oil reclaimed from kitchen waste and grease from leather processing plants in products it sold as cooking oil for human consumption.

The case was one of many food safety scandals in 2013 and 2014 centered on the use of oil products of low quality, often unfit for humans, which were being passed off as higher-grade quality products. Yeh’s prison sentence was the longest of all the businessmen on trial in the separate cases, reports said.

The Supreme Court found the Chang Guann chief guilty of a total of 285 violations because he sold his products to 285 clients and ruled he would have to serve at least 17 years in prison, while the remaining five years of the sentence could be replaced by a fine.

The company’s deputy general manager, Tai Chi-chuan (戴啟川), will have to serve 14 years in prison with four years possibly replaced by the payment of a fine, reports said.

Chang Guann will have to pay a separate fine of NT$120 million (US$3.99 million), while NT$81.5 million (US$2.7 million) in illicit income was to be confiscated. reports said.

The raw material for the company’s questionable lard oil products was supplied by Kuo Lieh-cheng (郭烈成), an illegal oil trader whose trial will have to be done over again, according to the latest court ruling. Kuo has since changed his name to Kuo Ying-chih (郭盈志), according to the Chinese-language Apple Daily.

The scandal affected dozens of companies across Taiwan, including prominent producers of edible oils, cakes, dumplings, noodles and dairy products.