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Enforcement Chapter for Food Safety – To Ensure Public Authority and Labor Interest

  • Publication Date :
  • Last updated:2019-07-18
  • View count:1798

A series of food safety incidents have happened recently, beginning with the marketing of illegal cooking oil byTatung Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co.The scandal caused a big stir in society. The Changhua District Enforcement Office of the Administrative Enforcement Agency reckoned this case would definitely be referred to it for processing, so it handled it with extreme care. It immediately went to collect information in the hope of controlling, in the first instance of time, the company's assets and came into contact with the Changhua government's health bureau, which was in charge of the prospective referral of the case, so that the district office could exercise its public authority as soon as the referral was made. However, the health bureau was once concerned that as the fine penalty was not yet determined, to refer the case to the administrative enforcement authority would prompt the company to apply for administrative readdress, which would lead to claims for national compensation. Fortunately director Kuo of the district office proactively sought coordination and communication with the chief of Changhua County Government. They decided "first to prevent the company from transferring its assets and to temporarily hold off the value-conversion in order to prevent the controversy of national compensation that might result in irreparable damage." It was this decision that allowed the smooth referral and enforcement of the case.

Immediately after the case was referred to it in December 2013, the Changhua District Enforcement Office froze the obligator's bank accounts and property. In addition, director Kuo sent two groups of staff at 8:30 on the morning of December 15 to the company's factories at Lugang and Xianxi to impound the obligator's properties, including 223 movable properties and 45 vehicles, completing the asset-holding process. Because the case broke out suddenly, the company had NT$18,240,000 unpaid for pensions and workers' termination allowances. If the case was enforced without taking into proper consideration of these payments, the labor's interest might be jeopardized, which in turn might result in big management-labor controversies, having a great negative impact on the agency of enforcement. As the marketing of illegal food oil was a crime, the obligator's bank accounts, totaling about NT$16,210,000, were impounded by the Chnghua District Prosecutors Office. The Labor Bureau of Changhua County Government insisted to use the money first for pension and termination payments while the banks insisted to keep the money as part of the compensation of their right. In the end, the controversy was referred to the Executive Yuan, which designated one of its ministers without portfolio, Ms.Tsai Yu-ling, to call all disputing parties to a meeting on December 6, 2013 in a bid to find a solution. Administrative Enforcement Agency director Chang Ching-yun proposed the controversy be solved based on the principle of giving first priority to labor's interest and in the meantime giving consideration to the creditor right of the nation. He took the lead to agree on giving first priority to the protection of labor's right and, in the end, this became the consensus. Consequently, the Changhua District Prosecutors Office lifted the impounding on December 11, 1923, and the Changhua District Enforcement Office, after getting banks' agreement, followed suit on January 2, 2014, by lifting the impoundment so that all the money could be used for staff pension and workers' severance payments, which were to be carried out by the Labor Bureau. Besides, the Changhua District Enforcement Office defrayed about NT$2,030,000 from the asset conversed funds to make up the shortage of the pension and termination payments, fully protecting labor's right. The chief of Changhua County Government highly commended the Changhua District Enforcement Office for its contribution to the protection of labor's right and the societal stability. Although the enforcement institutions are charged mainly with the creditor's right of the nation, they also make the interests of the disadvantaged people one of the cores of their concern.

Among the obligator's movable assets, not a few were oil products, machinery and other unique equipment. Therefore, it was not appropriate to use auction-like bidding to sell them off to ordinary people. Therefore, the Changhua District Enforcement Office asked the obligator to approach firms having had deals with the company to compete for the purchase as a main way of solution. This was regarded as the right way to raise the price for the benefit of fulfilling the obligator's payment to the government. The enforcement was finally completed after a number of sales and biddings.
Under the principle of protecting the obligator's right and interest, the Changhua District Enforcement Office did not adopt the process of direct auction to dispose of the unmovable assets. It allowed the company to find the buyers who would pay higher prices for their unmovable assets. This helped speed up the payment. As expected, after the obligator found the buyers, these buyers paid the overdue debt on behalf of the company. As a result, all the overdue payments of the company and its affiliates totaling NT$225,860,000, including NT$168,900,000 for the company and NT$56,890,000 for its affiliates, were fulfilled, putting a stop to the case.

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