French court confiscates 9 chateaux from Chinese magnate

Agence France Presse | 15 May 2024

French Court Confiscates 9 Chateaux From Chinese Magnate

A French court ruled Wednesday to confiscate nine Bordeaux wine country chateaux acquired by Chinese magnate convicted of laundering Chinese government funds.

Naijie Qu, 63, head of the Haichang Group based northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian, was also sentenced to a suspended three-year jail term and fined one million euros ($1.1 million).

The fine was 400,000 euros more than requested by prosecutors, who had asked for a four-year suspended jail term.

Haichang is a trading and shipping company which also has interests in property, tourism and agriculture.

It was the biggest of numerous Chinese investors which bought into one of France's most famous wine-growing regions in the early 2010s.

French police seized the estates in 2018 after finding evidence of tax fraud and use of forged documents, including to obtain a 30-million-euro loan by the Chinese bank ICBC's branch in Paris.

The chateaux were put in the name of Qu's wife in Hong Kong via a series of elaborately named shell companies in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.

China's National Audit Office (NAO) has said that Haichang had been granted public money by state authorities to buy foreign technology, but had instead purchased vineyards in France.
  •   AFP
  • 15 May 2024
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