TAIPEI (AFP) - A Taiwanese man has been detained for hoarding 300 tonnes of carrots in what authorities say was a bid to manipulate prices.
Investigators in the southern city of Kaohsiung have been probing fruit and vegetable prices, which have remained high since back-to-back typhoons battered Taiwan last month.
Acting on a tip, they found cartons of domestically grown carrots stacked floor to ceiling in a cold-storage warehouse on Wednesday (Oct 26).
The alleged hoarder, surnamed Chiang, was taken into custody and later released on Tw$100,000 (US$3,160) bail, according to prosecutors in Kaohsiung'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 Thursday.
"We suspect it is due to manipulation, affecting the interests of the people," prosecutors said.
Investigators will continue to look into whether other operators are also attempting 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 throughout the year, according to Apple Daily.
Chiang described the remaining 300 tonnes as a small amount that should not considered hoarding.
The island's agricultural council said last week it has ordered farmers' groups to increase imports and release more supplies into the market to help stabilise prices.
Taiwan was hit hard by Typhoon Megi in late September, which came on the heels of Super Typhoon Meranti.
The island's agricultural sector suffered roughly Tw$3.3 billion (US$104 million) in damage from Typhoon Megi.