TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Prosecutors found that 107 tons of tea leaves supposedly from Taiwan and Vietnam were actually grown in China, reports said Friday (Oct. 7).
Investigators have often uncovered schemes by tea traders to mix large amounts of tea leaves from Vietnam with more expensive Taiwan types of tea to obtain higher prices from unwitting consumers.
However, in the latest scam, tea leaves grown in China were moved to Vietnam and relabeled as Vietnamese tea before ending up as part of batches of supposedly Taiwanese tea, CNA reported.
The main suspects behind the scheme were two brothers named Hsieh (謝) who ran a tea packing factory in Mingjian, Nantou County, and a shop in the Kaohsiung City district of Gangshan. The two collaborated with a Chinese man named Huang (黃) to grow tea in China from December 2016, according to the Qiaotou District Prosecutors Office.
The tea leaves were moved to Vietnam for processing, which allowed the suspects to relabel their products as Vietnamese. The Hsieh brothers imported the tea leaves and repackaged them at their Nantou County plant as local tea.
Raids by prosecutors turned up 5,995 boxes of Chinese tea leaves, weighing a total of 107 tons. The brothers were indicted on charges including fraud and smuggling before being released on bail of NT$600,000 ($18,900) and NT$30,000.