Bordeaux (France), Jun 29 (AFP) 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 said today. Also Read - Vaccination Drive Suspended in Maharashtra Till Monday Due to CoWin App Glitches

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. Also Read - Day 1 of Largest Vaccination Drive Ends as Over 1.9 Frontline Workers Get First Jabs | 10 Points

It owns 24 estates, including Chateau Chenu-Lafitte, but the group’s purchases have been under investigation by financial prosecutors for several years. Also Read - Live Cricket Streaming India vs Australia 4th Test: When And Where to Watch IND vs AUS Stream Live Cricket Match Online And on TV

“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.

“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.” (AFP) CPS CPS

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.