Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Prosecutors target inflated face-mask prices nationwide

CRACKDOWN Stores in Taipei and Kaohsiung were found to be selling face masks for more than double the invoice price and could now face fines

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Prosecutors yesterday continued to crack down on face-mask abuses yesterday, uncovering a number of dealers selling their products at an inflated price.

Taipei Prosecutor Huang Jiou-chen (黃久真) led a team of assistant prosecutors and police officers in a raid on a pharmacy in Neihu District's Wenteh Rd where they discovered approximately 68,000 N95 respirators.

"We received complaints from the public that this pharmacy was trying to collect N95 respirators before selling them at inflated prices," Huang said.

However, Huang said that the owner of the pharmacy claimed he had done nothing wrong and that the masks were imported three days ago. The owner also said that he is due to receive a further batch of 17,000 masks today, according to Huang.

Huang said that prosecutors will investigate the owner's claims but refused to give the name or address of the pharmacy.

In Kaohsiung, police officers discovered a pharmacy and two computer hardware stores selling masks at an inflated price in Kaohsiung's Nantzu and Sanmin Districts and confiscated a total of 2,897 N95 respirators.

Police said that the pharmacy was selling the masks for NT$120 each while the computer stores were asking for NT$150. The invoice price of the N95 mask is around NT$55.

Police said that all three cases had been handed over to the Fair Trade Commission.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance's Kaohsiung Customs Bureau stopped a total of 64,000 N95 face masks from being exported to Japan.

All masks were later returned to manufacturer San-fang Co.

Because of an increase in demand, the ministry has banned the export of face masks since May 14.

Prosecutors in Taitung are investigating Fubaolian Pharmacy for increasing the price of face masks, adding that the pharmacy's owner Fu Yi-hsi (傅抑璽) may face fraud charges.

Prosecutor Huang Ju-hui (黃茹惠) said that Fu allegedly advertised his masks in Chinese-language newspapers as "N85" masks and sold them at NT$250 for each. Prosecutors discovered the masks to be normal surgical masks with an invoice price of NT$20 each.

Huang said that Fu lowered the price to NT$50 when investigators visited him at his pharmacy yesterday.

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