A Vietnamese trade official accused a local exporter of “systematic fraud” on Monday for smuggling cooking oil to Taiwan in huge shipments of oil classed for animal feed.
During their regular press briefing, officials from the Ministry of Industry and Trade said the Ho Chi Minh City-based Dai Hanh Phuc violated the terms of its business license by exporting six million kilograms of cooking oil to Taiwan between July 2011 and July 2014.
An unidentified company manager told officials at Taiwan’s representative office in Vietnam on October 18 that her firm concealed the cooking oil in 43 million kilograms of animal feed-grade oil during the three-year period, the Focus Taiwan News Channel reported.
At the time, Taiwanese trade officials wanted to investigate the company’s involvement in Taiwanese cooking oil scandals as Ting Hsin, one of Taiwan’s largest food companies, which caused a stir by selling animal-grade oil for human consumption.
But Tran Quang Trung, head of the Ministry of Health’s Food Safety Department, later cleared the company from the scandal by confirming that it had exported animal feed-grade oil to Taiwan for the purposes of making feed.
Trung faulted the Taiwanese buyers’ for not using the oil for its intended purpose.
But officials at the Monday meeting focused on the fact that the company had violated the terms of its business license, Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper reported.
Nguyen Phu Cuong, deputy head of the ministry’s Science and Technology Department, said Dai Hanh Phuc had never obtained adequate food safety certifications to trade food for human consumption.
Nguyen Phu Cuong from the Ministry of Industry and Trade speaks about Ho Chi Minh City's unlicensed exports of cooking oil to Taiwan at a press briefing on November 3, 2014. Photo credit: VnExpress
Cuong said the company first exported animal feed oil to Taiwan in January 2011, and in January 2012, started to add commercial-grade cooking oil to its shipments.
“This is a fraud, a sophisticated and systematic one,” Nguoi Lao Dong quoted him as saying.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities licensed the company to trade animal feed (including oil) and wood processing products.
They have suspended the company’s operations pending the results of an investigation.
Cuong said Dai Hanh Phuc oil was never sold in Vietnam.
“But Dai Hanh Phuc has severely damaged the prestige of Vietnam’s food industry,” he said.
Four Ting Hsin executives were arrested in oil-related scandals in Taiwan. Wei Ying-chung, who quit as chairman of Wei Chuan Foods Corp., a subsidiary of Ting Hsin, in the wake of the latest scandal, was also taken into custody.
Yang Chen-yi, a Dai Hanh Phuc partner who helped supply the oil to Ting Hsin, was also taken in.
Vietnamese officials have repeatedly insisted that no local retailers have purchased any oil from Ting Hsin or any of the other companies embroiled in the scandal.