TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Russian tourist has been arrested for illegally selling Taiwanese flags over the course of two weeks in Taipei and Kaohsiung, making a profit of NT$20,000 in the process.
The 50-year-old Russian national, who has been identified as Oleg, arrived in Taiwan on a tourist visa on Oct. 11 with 500 Taiwanese flags in his luggage. The man sold the flags to motorists on the streets of Taipei and Kaohsiung for the price of NT$100 each, netting him a profit of NT$50 with every sale.
Oleg had recently been spotted at the intersection of Dazhong Road and Rongzong Road in Kaohsiung's Zuoying District peddling small flags he said were to raise funds for his travel expenses, raising eyebrows among locals. After receiving a tip from a member of the public, National Immigration Agency officers were dispatched to the scene at 11 a.m. on Saturday (Oct. 26), where they arrested Oleg and seized 86 flags on the spot, according to the report.
When officers questioned Oleg, he claimed to be hearing and speech impaired. After NIA brought in translators to assist with communication, he admitted that he had been shuttling back and forth between Taipei and Kaohsiung, selling flags to raise money to cover his travel expenses.
The NIA estimates that during his 15 days in Taiwan, Oleg sold 414 of the 500 flags, resulting in over NT$20,000 in profits. The agency said that by peddling flags for profit, the Russian national had broken the terms of his visa-free entry permit and affected the safety of passersby.
At 7 a.m. on Thursday morning (Oct. 31), Oleg was deported by the NIA for violating Articles 29 and 36 of the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法).