A wine merchant in Central China’s Jiangxi province has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined for RMB 80,000 (US$11,300) for selling fake Penfolds, the popular wine brand that has become a household name in China.
According to local court in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province, the merchant surnamed Xu bought over 120 cases of fake Penfolds, the flagship wine of Australian wine giant, Treasury Wine Estates, through someone on WeChat between May 2018 and May 2019.
The wines, bought at what the prosecutors described as “vastly under-priced values”, included counterfeit Penfolds Bin 128, Bin 407, and Bin 707, according to the published court document.
A bottle of Penfolds Bin 707 for instance sells for RMB 4000 (US$565) on the wine group’s verified flagship store on China’s e-commerce platform JD.com, while Xu bought the whole case for RMB 1,700.
Xu then scaled up prices and sold the wines for much higher profits, doubling the price of Penfolds Bin 707 to RMB 3,000 a case, and profited about RMB 120,000 (US$17,000), according to the prosecution team.
Prosecutors believe Xu violated Chinese criminal law article 214, which states that “Whoever knowingly sells commodities bearing counterfeit registered trademarks” could face up to seven years in jail if the amount of sales is huge.
Considering Xu voluntarily turned himself in to police last September and confessed his crimes, the local court cited Article 67 and delivered a mitigated sentencing of one year in prison and RMB 80,000 fine.
Penfolds is among the most counterfeited wine in China, given its vast popularity in the country. China is also its most profitable market so far.
In 2018, police in Zhengzhou city in central Henan province busted 50,000 bottles of fake Penfolds worth over US$2.8 million – the biggest haul of counterfeit Penfolds.