TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — 18 people involved with Chinese health product company Quanjian Group have been arrested for false advertisement and the cultivation of pyramid schemes.
The news was broken by Chinese media outlet Tianjin Daily, which reported today (Jan. 7) that Quanjian Group is currently under investigation, and 18 individuals have been detained for involvement in illegal activity.
Quanjian Group is one of China’s biggest health companies and touts itself as a provider of natural alternatives to medical treatment.
The company has long been the subject of intense scrutiny, not only for its extreme marketing campaigns that include peddling sanitary pads and facial cleansers as safe enough to eat and drink, but also for more serious moral and legal blunders.
In 2013, the company encouraged a father to switch his four-year-old daughter’s cancer treatment for miracle-cure medicinal powders and herbal drinks that it claimed would heal her completely. After learning of his daughter’s plight and the fact that she had become stable, Quanjian Group contacted the father directly, persuading him to buy 5,000 Chinese yuan (US$730) worth of products and take his daughter out of hospital.
After the father took along a photograph of his daughter when he visited Quanjian headquarters, it was used by the company in an advertisement claiming they had cured the girl’s cancer. After she died in 2015, her father sued Quanjian, but was unable to convict the group of false advertisement or convince them to remove her photo from commercials.
The Tianjin Daily report says Tianjin public security authorities have filed a lawsuit against Quanjian Group. Among those arrested this week was the 51-year-old lead director Shu Weihui (束昱輝). Shu is believed to be the CEO of the company.
A solicitor at Beijing Dongwei Law Firm has reportedly said that if he is found guilty of “organizing and leading pyramid schemes” and his actions with fellow group members are found to constitute “serious crimes,” Shu could face up to 25 years behind bars.
The activities of Quanjian Group have rapidly evolved into a topic of concern among Chinese social media users. Relevant departments in Tianjin and Shanghai say they have established investigation teams for further inquiry into the matter.