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Chinese businessman given life sentence for smuggling

A Chinese man has been given a life sentence for illegally importing millions of dollars of fine wine into China.

Sun Xitai was convicted of forging invoices and import contracts to evade import duties on 70,000 bottles worth CNY45m (US$7.13m) between January 2004 and December 2009, the Beijing Times reported.

Sun altered the name, details and price of high-end wines imported from France, Britain and Hong Kong, stating they were cheap alcohol, the court said.

It is not clear which wines were imported, although one report said there were large amounts of Chateau Lafite, Latour and other blue-chip wines.

The report also said Sun imported high-end Nike and Adidas trainers, Oakley sunglasses and other luxury goods.

According to the newspaper, the 62-year-old businessman, who ran three Beijing companies, had already served a prison sentence for a separate offence in 2002.

He said at his trial last September that the punitive tax rate of up to 50% on wine left him no choice but to smuggle.

‘It would be difficult to stay in business if I went through official channels,’ he is reported to have said.

Sun, a native of northeastern Liaoning Province, pleaded guilty but insisted his profits were only CNY4m (US$0.6m)..

His secretary, Meng Li, was sentenced to five years in prison and fined CNY2m for her involvement.

Both have appealed, the newspaper said.

Written by Decanter.com staff

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