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Chinese fraudster jailed for five years for bottling fake Lafite and Petrus

A Chinese fraudster has received a five-year prison sentence after he was caught with 786 bottles of counterfeit wine bearing prestigious labels such as Petrus.

Qi Moudao was also fined 250,000 yuan (£27,500) after he admitted to illegally bottling fake wines from prestigious Bordeaux châteaux.

During the raid, police confiscated hundreds of bottles of branded wine, along with empty bottles, aluminium caps and bottling machines.

Officers found that 33 of the counterfeit bottles were labelled as either Petrus, Château Lafite Rothschild or Pomerol.

Another 29 bottles were branded as Carruades de Lafite 2017, which is the second wine of the famous First Growth estate in Pauillac.

The authorities carried out authenticity checks and quickly confirmed that they were fake wines. Investigators found that Qi had collaborated with two other fraudsters, Zhou Moubin and Qi Mouxi, to set up the counterfeit scam between March 2020 and November 2021.

The Tongzhou District People’s Court of Beijing ruled that his actions constituted a severe case of trademark infringement and sentenced him to five years in prison. Qi did not appeal the decision.

The court decided to release details of the case to mark National Intellectual Property Week in China. It hopes to raise consumer awareness about the dangers of buying prestigious wines from unverified sources.

Officials revealed that the cost of producing the counterfeit wines was low. A bottle of Petrus sells for more than 50,000 yuan (£5,500) in Mainland China, so there is a clear financial incentive for fraudsters to perpetrate these scams.

The criminals try to sell these wines at slightly lower prices than licensed, reputable retailers, claiming that they are legit, but that they have been smuggled.

In 2020, Bordeaux’s wine council claimed a landmark victory in its battle against counterfeits in China, with the help of local authorities.

Chinese law enforcement agencies have ramped up their efforts to combat counterfeit wines since then, with several high-profile busts in the past few years.

In January 2023, a raid in Fujian province uncovered 40,000 fake bottles of wine, including Lafite and Penfolds, with a ‘street value’ of more than £120m.

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