Man accused of hoarding 300 tonnes of carrots

TAIPEI • A local man has been detained for hoarding 300 tonnes of carrots in a bid to manipulate prices, the authorities say.

Investigators in Kaohsiung city have been probing produce prices, which have stayed high since back-to-back typhoons battered Taiwan last month.

Acting on a tip-off, they found cartons of carrots stacked floor to ceiling in a cold-storage warehouse on Wednesday.

The alleged hoarder, identified only by his surname Chiang, was taken into custody and later released on NT$100,000 (S$4,400) bail, according to prosecutors in the city's Ciaotou district.

"The typhoons passed quite some time ago, but prices of vegetables, fruit and other agricultural products have yet to fall," they said in a statement released on Thursday. "We suspect it is due to manipulation, affecting the interests of the people."

Investigators will continue to look into whether other operators are also trying to drive up prices or monopolise the market.

Local media cited Chiang, a produce vendor, as denying the accusation. He claims he buys about 1,500 tonnes of carrots every February and March to be sold over the year, according to Apple Daily. He describes the 300 tonnes left as a small amount that should not be considered hoarding.

The island's agricultural council said last week it had ordered farmers' groups to increase imports and release more supplies to help stabilise prices.

Taiwan's agricultural sector saw NT$3.3 billion in damage after Typhoon Megi struck late last month.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2016, with the headline 'Man accused of hoarding 300 tonnes of carrots'. Print Edition | Subscribe