Counterfeit bootleggers sentenced in China

Three bootleggers in the Chinese city of Chengdu have been jailed after being found guilty of producing counterfeit imported spirits of well known brands, including Chivas and Hennessy, highlighting the country’s persistent counterfeit problem.

The three suspects at trial in an intermediate court in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China. (Photo source: Procuratorial Daily)

According to a report by Chinese newspaper Procuratorial Daily, the official newspaper of The Supreme People’s Procuratorate, a sophisticated operation of counterfeit spirits production was discovered in Chengdu, following a lead by London-based International Federation of Spirits Producers (IFSP), an international trade organisation combating counterfeit spirits.

The verdict came one year after the IFSP’s suspicions were raised when one suspect named Chen Zhigui was found visiting a waste station twice a day to purchase empty bottles of fine spirits brands and transport them back to a courtyard in rural areas of Chengdu for cleaning and refilling.

Further investigation and a police raid discovered 1,954 bottles of fake spirits involving 10 well known bands, 3,552 empty bottles, 59,132 fake labels as well as 7,426 caps and capsules at the courtyard, the report said.

Started in 2014, the illegal ring had been operating from the courtyard for two years before the police raid, with the investigation revealing that Chen was the one sourcing empty bottles, fake labels, and other necessary counterfeit production materials as well as distribution.

Another two suspects were tasked with cleaning, bottling, labelling and the logistics of the fake spirits operation.

The three suspects were charged with counterfeiting registered trademarks.

Chen, the lead suspect, was sentenced to five years, and fined for RMB 450,000; another suspect surnamed Yang was sentenced to two years, and fined for RMB 80,000; the third suspect, Yu,  was given a year and four months sentence and fined RMB 70,000.

The verdict came shortly after after 22 people were poisoned by methanol-laced fake whisky in Guangdong province in southern China, resulting in a national ban on the two fake whisky brands involved.

dbHK also reported just this week that police in Bejiing has busted a counterfeit wine company selling non-existent, fake Moët Hennessy Côtes du Rhône wine.

China is already the world’s biggest spirits consumer in the world, and demand for imported spirits remains bullish, as shown in the country’s imports figures in the first 10 months of the year. More than 58.8 million litres of spirits led by brandies were shipped to China from January to October this year, representing a 28.9% increase over the previous year, while its value grew by 39.22% to US$898.15 million – the highest so far compared with beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages – according to figures released by China Association for Imports and Exports of Wine & Spirits.

One Response to “Counterfeit bootleggers sentenced in China”

  1. Klark Kent says:

    That’s not a long time at all for some people that could potentially be lethal. Over the course of the 2 years, I’m sure they made far more than the fines that they received.
    IG – KingBlockDean
    FB – E.A.T.

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