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March 19, 2010

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Poison threat nets extortion charge

A MAN who threatened to put poisons into the well-known health supplement Naobaijin, or melatonin, and demanded 574,000 yuan (US$84,029) from the producer has been arrested, local prosecutors said yesterday.

Zhang Li, a native from northeastern China in his 30s, is charged with extortion.

He told prosecutors he got the idea from a book that quoted the president of Giant Group, the producer of Naobaijin, which is sold as a sleep and intestinal aid.

The president listed 13 conditions that may lead to shutdown of a company. One of the conditions was the sabotage poisoning of a product.

Zhang, who was collecting money to form a medicine agency, thought to extort the group by threatening to put poisons into the products, prosecutors said.

"I thought they would surely satisfy my demand because it was a big company and wouldn't allow the news of poisoning to be spread to tarnish its reputation," Zhang told prosecutors.

Zhang called the company on January 13, claiming to be a company boss and saying he needed to pay employee bonuses. He requested 574,000 yuan and threatened to put poisons into Naobaijin products on the shelf, Luwan District prosecutors said.

Zhang said he had never thought of really poisoning the products. He just hoped to scare the company.

He was charged with extortion because he didn't actually poison anything.


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