Mon, Apr 15, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Apple Sidra executives sacked amid probe

SCANDAL:New Taipei City prosecutors said allegations surfaced last year after the Oceanic Beverages Co made three real-estate deals, but could not verify the transactions and transfers

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Bottles of Oceanic Beverage’s Apple Sidra sit on shelves in a Taipei supermarket on April 2.

Photo: CNA

Apple Sidra yesterday sacked general manager Sun Yu-ying (孫幼英) amid allegations that top executives defrauded the company.

The launching of last week’s judicial probe saw executives of Oceanic Beverages Co Inc (大西洋飲料) summoned for questioning and Sun detained.

New Taipei City prosecutors said that allegations surfaced last year after the company made three real-estate deals totaling NT$640 million (US$20.73 million at the current exchange rate), but could not verify the transaction records and payment transfers when an audit was performed by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Taiwan.

After questioning, Oceanic Beverage chairman Chiang Kuo-kuei (江國貴) was released on bail of NT$150,000, while four independent directors, including Su Yun-le (蘇芸樂) and Lin Wei-chiang (林偉強), were bailed on bonds of NT$34,000 to NT$400,000, prosecutors said, adding that further investigation could produce indictments.

The company’s board of directors yesterday held an emergency meeting and dismissed Chiang and Sun, and named company auditing head Wang Chen-min (王鎮民) to assume both roles.

Since its creation in 1965, the Apple Sidra brand has dominated the domestic beverage market, together with Taiwan's Hey Song Sarsaparilla (黑松沙士), enjoying to this day a considerable market share, despite inroads made by global soft drink giants Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc.

Oceanic Beverages' revenue from global sales last year reached NT$600 million, of which Apple Sidra contributed nearly 90 percent, or NT$540 million, a company report showed.

However, the company’s share price has fallen from NT$16 early last year to NT$9.72 on April 2.

Allegations of mismanagement and financial irregularities have plagued Oceanic Beverages since the New Taipei City Department of Health fined it NT$1 million in November last year for failing to monitor product quality and NT$1.2 million the following month for contaminants found in Apple Sidra bottles on supermarket shelves — both breaches of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).

In the November incident, the company conducted a recall.

Health officials said that 122 complaints were filed against the company from July to September last year by people who had purchased Apple Sidra.

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