TTL stops making disputed liquor

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Jun 08, 2013 - Page 3

The state-run Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. (TTL) yesterday said it has stopped a customized production operation using raw materials provided by clients, following accusations that it was smuggling liquor from China.

Company chairman Hsu An-hsuan (徐安旋) made the announcement at a press conference after a lawmaker made the accusation a day earlier. The lawmaker also alleged the company had been selling fake Maotai (茅台酒) — a Chinese distilled spirit — to China.

“TTL did not smuggle banned products,” Hsu said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) accused TTL of illegally importing Maotai from China’s Guizhou Province, which it used to make a TTL-branded Maotai by mixing it with Taiwanese kaoliang and exporting it to China.

Chao accused the company of smuggling the Chinese Maotai by describing it as “vodka” to obtain an import permit, a move which he said not only broke anti-smuggling laws, but also damaged the interests of Taiwanese producers and the “made in Taiwan” image.

Hsu said the problematic import was set up last year by a former TTL licensed dealer in China’s Shandong Province, and not TTL, to be used as an ingredient in a customized product.

Under the Shandong company’s order, TTL produced the customized “Yushan Taiwan Maotai” at a cost of NT$350 per bottle, Hsu said.

TTL earned no more than NT$21 million (US$706,380) from an order for 5,000 cases, he said, rebutting Chao’s accusation that the company has made huge profits from the transaction.

However, TTL has stopped production of the custom order to avoid further disputes, he added.

TTL recently terminated the Shandong company’s license because it had failed to meet the sales target it had promised, TTL senior vice president Su Gui-yang (蘇癸陽) said.

Su also rebutted Chao’s accusations that TTL sold Yushan Taiwan Maotai in China without a Chinese trademark certificate.

TTL stopped sales of the product in September 2011 and has not taken any orders for the product since then. However, it still has to complete shipments of orders placed before that date, Su said.

An investigation into the accusations is under way after investigators from the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau raided a TTL winery in Chiayi County on Thursday and seized imported raw materials and liquor samples.