French court confiscates Bordeaux wine chateaux from Chinese magnate

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

The sentenced 63-year-old Naijie Qu is a wealthy businessman, Bordeaux wine enthusiasist and head of Haichang Group, a trading and shipping conglomerate with interests in property, tourism and agriculture based in the northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian.

Haichang was one of the most ambitious investors in a Chinese buying spree of France's most famous wine-growing regions in the early 2010s.

But the millionaire's adventure came to an end on Wednesday before the Paris Criminal Court who sentenced the Chinese entrepreneur to a suspended three-year jail term with a fine of one million euros.

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

The court also ordered the confiscation of debts and nine of Qu's chateaux, totalling 35.5 million euros.

His employee, 54-year-old Jian Liu, was also sentenced to eighteen months in prison and fined 50,000 euros for fraud related charges.

Fraud and forgery

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

Qu's twenty plus Bordeaux chateaux, which cost him some 60 million euros, were put in the name of his wife in Hong Kong via a series of elaborately named shell companies in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.

Read more on RFI English

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