Market inspec­tors and police offi­cers in Pudong, China, have arrested five sus­pects fol­low­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into a scheme to make mil­lions of dol­lars by chang­ing the expi­ra­tion dates on bot­tles of for­eign olive oil and then sell­ing them to unsus­pect­ing dis­trib­u­tors.

Authorities seized about 1,300 car­tons con­tain­ing roughly 10,000 bot­tles of oil from two ware­houses. According to police, the plot would have net­ted some US$1.32 mil­lion in ille­gal prof­its if the bot­tles had been sold.
See more: Olive Oil Fraud

The sus­pects allegedly had already sold some bot­tles with fake expi­ra­tion labels in 12 Chinese cities and provinces. The prof­its from those ini­tial sales were esti­mated to be close to US$200,000.

Three brands of olive oil were caught up in the scheme — San Giuliano and Clemente from Italy, and Natura from Spain, accord­ing to the press reports.

The Shanghai Daily news­pa­per reported that one of the sus­pects said she was fol­low­ing orders from her boss at San Giuliano. That sus­pect, iden­ti­fied only by the name Chen, told the news­pa­per that some of the faked labels were sent to her from Italy, while oth­ers were printed in China.

In an emailed response to Olive Oil Times, a San Giuliano rep­re­sen­ta­tive said, “We have learnt about this inci­dent only from your email. Before it, this sce­nario was totally unknown to us and we still have no idea of what is going on. We will get back to you with our com­ments as soon as pos­si­ble.”

The Xinmin Evening News reported that the scheme began in 2013.

A pros­e­cu­tor told reporters that the sus­pects faced up to two years in prison, but that the sen­tences could be longer if author­i­ties rule that peo­ple’s health was at risk from the expired oil.

The arrests come sev­eral months after a Taiwanese bil­lion­aire who sells foods through­out China and much of the rest of Asia was sen­tenced for sell­ing adul­ter­ated olive oil.



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