The mystery man who splashed red paint in German automation specialist Baumüller's Taipei Plas booth has revealed his identity to Plastics News, but the plot is only getting thicker.
Karma Tang, a global sales agent for industrial products, told Plastics News that he confessed to the Taipei police on Oct. 7, taking responsibility for the audacious act that forced Baumüller to shut down its booth and leave the five-day trade fair on the third day.
“I was just protesting, I didn't hurt anyone, and nobody was injured,” Tang spoke from Taipei on an exclusive phone interview. “I wanted to warn them to stop their contract-breaching activities.” He is accusing Baumüller of breaching his six-year agent contract and he is demanding 7.5 million euros ($9.5 million) in compensation.
“The [police] officers were very understanding, and I'm filing a lawsuit against Baumüller,” he said. It will take at least a week for the police to transfer all files to the prosecutor's office of the Taipei Shilin district court before a court session can be scheduled, he added.
Tang also intends to take the case to a court in Shanghai, since the dispute is between him and Baumüller's Shanghai subsidiary Baumüller Automation Equipment Trading (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. “They signed the six-year contract with me.”
Speaking with Plastics News on the phone from his Shanghai office, Baumüller China general manager Stefan Krahn saw the issue in a different light. He said Tang is a stalker who follows many companies and tries to get them in trouble.
“He forges signatures and falsifies documents,” Krahn said.
“Many German companies have been approached by this person,” he added.
Krahn would not make further comments on specific details, and wishes to stay silent until the lawsuit has an outcome.
“We have handed it over to the lawyer already,” he said. “The crime was conducted [at Taipei Plas], the police have evidence, and the lawyer is working on it.”
In contrast to Baumüller's low-key reaction, Tang gave a detailed narration of his side of story and didn't hide his intention to get media coverage.
“I'm also trying to get publicity from German media such as the [broadcaster] Deutsche Welle, and take the issue to the public eye, so they can see the situation of an individual victim bullied by two large corporations.”
In Tang's version of events, he says it all started with a meeting last year, when he was referred by a friend to Andreas Baumüller, managing director of Baumüller Nürnberg GmbH.
He claims Baumüller asked him to help develop business for Baumüller's China plant in Wujiang near Shanghai. The plant opened in 2012 but had been operating in the red.
Tang, a Taiwanese native, alleged he leveraged his network of Taiwanese executives in China and quickly brought business to Baumüller Shanghai.
“I landed these customers within six months, and they placed orders and paid money.”
Things were going well, he claimed. “I would never have imagined that they would kick me out later.”
But the honeymoon phase ended, he alleged, after Tang introduced Chin Fong Group, a leading manufacturer of stamping and forging presses, to Baumüller.
Tang said the two companies hit it off, as he thought it was clear that Baumüller's servo motor can bring Chin Fong's machinery to the next level. They reached a technical cooperation agreement between Baumüller's Wujiang plant and Chin Fong's Ningbo factory in neighboring Zhejiang province.
But then, Tang claimed he found out that he was being terminated.
“They forced him to sign on paperwork that would end my six-year agent contract. I was very upset and tried to have more discussion with them, but they refused to meet. The whole situation was in limbo since May, despite my efforts to communicate,” Tang alleges.
He pointed to Chin Fong's CEO for wanting to get rid of him without paying commission. “I have email evidence on that.”
But he also alleged Baumüller misinformed Chin Fong about his role.
“I'm fairly certain that Baumüller didn't make Chin Fong aware of their six-year contract with me, otherwise Chin Fong would have thought twice about the consequences of a contract breach.”
Tang said his claim he is owed 7.5 million euros is to cover his loss from the contract breach. He said the third parties had discussed the possibility of opening a service center in Taiwan to serve local customers.
“Based on the market study we did and the sales forecast, my share would be 7.5 million. I'm not pulling numbers out of thin air. I'm not trying to hurt anyone. I'm defending my rights.”
He said he would give up on the contract, as long as he receives the payment.
“I've given them three months but they didn't do anything,” he said on the phone.
He claimed in a follow-up online interview that Baumüller Shanghai threatened him by saying they know people in the mafia.
“I did what I did [at Taipei Plas] to protest.”