Tue, Jul 30, 2019 - Page 2 News List

New regulations tighten fines for polluters: EPA

ILLEGAL GAINS:The new rules empower authorities to recover profits made from major pollution breaches, such as not installing pollution control equipment

By Hsiao Yu-hsin and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Individuals and companies that benefit from contravening the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) will have to turn over all illegal profits, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday, citing the new Regulations for Accounting and Estimating the Benefits from Violating the Obligation of Air Pollution Control Act (違反空氣污染防制法義務所得利益核算及推估辦法) that took effect on Friday.

The act mandates a fine of up to NT$20 million (US$643,045) for companies that contravene it.

In the past, breaches of the act were mainly punished by fines, with the amount determined in accordance with Article 18, Paragraph 2 of the Administrative Penalty Act (行政罰法), the EPA said in a statement.

If the benefits gained from such breaches exceeded the maximum statutory fine, the fine would be based on the amount of illegal profits made, it said.

Under the old rules, although the illegal gains were recovered, it meant no fines were collected, the EPA said.

This practice not only failed to achieve environmental justice, but also affected fair competition, it said.

Profits made by long-term or major offenders should all be returned, it said, listing as examples money made from the overuse of flammable raw materials in the production process, or money saved by not purchasing or maintaining pollution control equipment.

When businesses have nothing to gain from breaching regulations, they will not “take the risk” and continue to do so, it said.

The new regulations were set by the EPA according to amendments to Article 86, Paragraph 4 of the Air Pollution Control Act made on Aug. 1 last year, as well as by referencing articles in similar regulations for water pollution breaches, and domestic and foreign cases of dealing with illegal profits, it said.

The new rules empower the authorities to recover illegal profits from major pollution breaches, and set the parameters for calculating, estimating and categorizing active, passive and total income, it said.

Illegal profits from up to six years ago can be recovered, until improvements are made, it said.

Factors such as evidence provided by companies, investigative assistance from other agencies or institutions, or expert input can be used by the authorities as reference for recovering illegal profits, it said, adding that calculations of profits would be made on a case-by-case basis.

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