SHARE
COPY LINK

WINE

French police seize 10 Chinese-owned vineyards in Bordeaux

French financial police have seized 10 wineries in the Bordeaux area which are owned by Chinese conglomerate Haichang over suspicions of tax fraud, a police source told AFP on Friday.

French police seize 10 Chinese-owned vineyards in Bordeaux
File photo: Vineyard Bordeaux
Haichang Group, based in the northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian, is the biggest of numerous Chinese investors which have bought into one of France's most famous wine-growing regions in recent years.
   
It owns 24 estates, including Chateau Chenu-Lafitte, but the group's purchases have been under investigation by financial prosecutors for several years.
   
“For 10 chateaux, we discovered a certain number of tax crimes: laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud, forgery, use of forgery, etc,” a police source told AFP, confirming a report by France 2 television. 
 
READ ALSO:
“In the second quarter of the year, we seized those that were acquired fraudulently,” the source said.
   
Investigators began looking into Haichang after reports in the French press that the group had been named in a report by a Chinese state auditor in 2014.
 
China's National Audit Office (NAO) said in its annual report that Haichang had been granted public money by state authorities to buy foreign technology, but had instead purchased vineyards in France.
   
Controlled by 56-year-old businessman Naije Qu, Haichang is a trading and shipping company which also has interests in property, tourism and agriculture. 
   
In 2013, Paris's money laundering investigators Tracfin had raised the alarm about Chinese investments in the French wine industry and called for “increased vigilance.” 

Member comments

  1. Fully support the reduction in speed limits. French drivers in rural areas drive far too fast on what seem quiet roads; but overtaking on blind bends, as happened to us just a few days ago, will cause death, so I for one welcome the restriction.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FARMING

Cold snap ‘could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent’

A rare cold snap that froze vineyards across much of France this month could see harvest yields drop by around a third this year, France's national agriculture observatory said on Thursday.

Cold snap 'could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent'
A winemaker checks whether there is life in the buds of his vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes in western France, on April 12th, following several nights of frost. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Winemakers were forced to light fires and candles among their vines as nighttime temperatures plunged after weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had spurred early budding.

Scores of vulnerable fruit and vegetable orchards were also hit in what Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.”

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

The government has promised more than €1 billion in aid for destroyed grapes and other crops.

Based on reported losses so far, the damage could result in up to 15 million fewer hectolitres of wine, a drop of 28 to 30 percent from the average yields over the past five years, the FranceAgriMer agency said.

That would represent €1.5 to €2 billion of lost revenue for the sector, Ygor Gibelind, head of the agency’s wine division, said by videoconference.

It would also roughly coincide with the tally from France’s FNSEA agriculture union.

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed during a visit to damaged fields in southern France last Saturday that the emergency aid would be made available in the coming days to help farmers cope with the “exceptional situation.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts

SHOW COMMENTS