Staff accused of stealing US$10m worth of booze in China

Employees at a Chinese wine and spirits importing company have been accused of stealing wines and spirits worth RMB 67 million (US$10.56 million), making it possibly the biggest alcoholic beverage theft in recent history in mainland China, according to state media reports.

The theft was discovered when the Chinese listed importing company, Huang Tai Liquor, was assessing its inventories and found that about one million bottles of wines worth roughly RMB 67 million were missing, according to a report by the country’s stock news portal cnstocks.com, which is run by state agency Xinhua.

The missing wines’ value was so significant that the news portal estimated that it accounted for nearly 40% of the listed company’s total wine stock value announced at the end of September last year.

“The portion of the lost wines is so remarkable that it’s unheard of in wine industry,” the site wrote.

The report did not, however, disclose how many suspects were charged but revealed the loss was discovered at the year end of 2017. The company has reported the theft to the police.

In a statement released on 8 February, the company said it had found “evidence and partial facts” that certain relevant employees are suspected of having committed severe economic crime, according to a report by state broadcasting site CNR.com.

This is the latest blow to embroiled Huang Tai Liquor, a Guansu-based company from northwestern China, which has already been mired in financial debts, according to reports. The company was suspended from trading on Shenzhen Stock Exchange in July last year amid reports of liquidity problems and bad company debts.

Founded in 1985, it was publicly listed in 2000, one year ahead of the country’s famous Baijiu producer Kweichow Moutai from southwestern China.

At the height of Huang Tai’s development, the company was held on a par with Kweichow Moutai as its slogan says, “There’s Moutai in the South, and Huang Tai in the north”.

Huang Tai produces and distributes Baijiu and wines, with the former being the majority.

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