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Chinese tycoon to be tried for Bordeaux buying spree

Entrepreneur Qu Naijie is accused of embezzling €32 million (£28m) of Chinese state subsidies granted for investment in digital technology to buy 25 châteaux in Bordeaux instead.

Qu is to stand trial in Paris in February for allegedly embezzling the money that was granted by the Chinese state to his Haichang Group. It is claimed that instead of investing the money in digital technology, which it was why it was granted, he chose to invest it in Bordeaux vineyards.

His assimilation into the region was furthered when he was invited to join Bordelais wine brotherhood La Commanderie du Bontemps. He was also a member of the CCI (Chambres de Commerce et d’Industrie), and even launched a wine festival in his home city of Dailan, in China’s Liaoning province, according to Sud Ouest.

Most of the châteaux were acquired by Qu during a buying spree between 2010 and 2013. In total, the 25 properties, largely situated in Libournais (the Right Bank), are expected to be worth in the region of €60m (£52m).

As well as the state funds he allegedly embezzled, Qu is accused of using fake bills of sale for vineyards to obtain an additional €30m (£26m) loan from the Luxembourg subsidiary of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, as reported in The Times. Apparently that loan has since been repaid.

Prosecutors claim that a network of offshore companies was utilised to disguise the transactions.

This is not the first Qu’s Bordeaux activities have raised the attention of the authorities. In 2018, French fraud investigators confiscated 10 of his estates over the alleged financial irregularities surrounding their purchase.

In 2014, Haichang Group, which has also invested in property, shipping and marine theme parks, was accused by China’s National Audit Office of misspending public funds, as part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.

The 63-year-old Qu denies all wrongdoing. Accounting firm Exco Ecaf is charged as an accessory.

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