French Gvmt Report Warns of Money Laundering by Chinese, Russians in Wine Deals08-06 14:53 Caijing
The appetite for French vineyard by Chinese and Russian is more about laundering money, instead of being interested in pressing grapes, foreign media said, citing a government report.
A number of signs suggest some wealthy could be involved in some kind of furtive and complicated money laundering, using big vineyard deals to cover their crimes, according to the report.
China for the first time made onto the list of countries where the suspected wealthy come from, complied by the French government to warn over risks facing the wine industry, said Sud-Ouest, a local French newspaper.
The annual report was released by the government's anti-money laundering organ, the financial intelligence unit. The 130-page report this year targets a growing numbers of questionable deals in the wine industry.
It did not give names of the deals, but there was indeed reminiscence of dozens of purchases by the Chinese including those from Hong Kong and Taiwan of vineyards in Bordeaux and Burgundy, according to Sud-Quest.
The intelligence unit has, for years, raised questions about the source of funding in such deals, and stepped up surveillance, the paper said. It also indicated the unit had evidence to come to the conclusion.
Thousands of buyers appeared in the southwest France, firstly from East Europe, and then Hong Kong. Mainland buyers started buying vineyards in the region since 2008.
The intelligence unit did not comment on whether investigations had already begun regarding to the acquisitions, the paper said.
The government could find it hard to monitor the capital flows from China to France, and it should be very cautious before reaching any conclusions, according to the report.
Methods that were probably used to launder money include tax evasions by purchasing loss-making vineyards, and being engaged in third-party acquisitions, it added.
The rich from China bought some 40 vineyards in recent years, with the pace still growing. In 2002, France wine makers sold 140 million liters to Chinese consumers, making France the largest wine exporter in Europe.
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