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Another Taiwanese manufacturer accused of selling counterfeit masks

ROC Central News Agency

09/10/2020 05:07 PM

Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) A manufacturer on the "National Face Mask Team" was detained and questioned by prosecutors Wednesday, on suspicion of importing some 10 million non-medical grade masks from China and labeling them as Taiwan-made.

The owner of Haw Ping Co., the second company on the 53-member team to face such accusations, was interrogated and released on bail of NT$2 million (US$68,284), after investigators searched the company's premises in Yuanlin, Changhua County earlier Wednesday, Changhua District Prosecutor Yeh Chien-cheng (葉建成) said Thursday.

During the raid, investigators seized account books, shipment records and other data, and summoned five people for questioning on suspicion of fraud, including Haw Ping's owner, identified only by the surname Lu (呂), according to Yeh.

Changhua-based Haw Ping is one of the 53 manufacturers on the National Face Mask Team designated by the government to produce Taiwan-made masks for the domestic market and for export.

Earlier this month, Carry Mask in New Taipei City, another team member, was found to have been importing masks from China and supplying them to pharmacies for sale under the National Health Insurance (NHI) program.

Since then, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has been scrutinizing the other members of the National Face Mask Team.

In the case of Haw Ping, it was found to have been supplying 3D printed medical masks labeled "Made in Taiwan," although it has no 3D mask production machines at its factory, according to Changhua prosecutors.

Approximately 4 million of the falsely labeled masks may have already reached the domestic market, while a stockpile of about 3 million was found at the company's warehouse, prosecutors said.

Haw Ping was importing the masks at a cost of NT$2-NT$3 each and reselling them at NT$5 each, according to prosecutors.

The government began requisitioning all domestically produced surgical masks on Jan. 31 and implemented a rationing program on Feb. 6. While consumers can now buy unlimited numbers of masks on the open market, the option of obtaining nine masks per fortnight at a controlled price still remains for people who hold NHI cards.

On Tuesday, the Central Epidemic Command Center said that starting in the third week of September, masks made by the companies on the National Face Mask Team must be imprinted with the letters MD alongside the Made in Taiwan mark, to clearly distinguish them from imported products.

(By Liang Pei-chi, Wu Jhe-hao and Evelyn Kao)


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