Canadian winery chairman reportedly among four arrested for smuggling in China

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      A Richmond winery is not commenting on a published news story about its owner possibly being booked on serious criminal charges in China.

      The South China Morning Post's Ian Young has reported that "a Canadian winery owner named 'Zhang' has been arrested for smuggling wine worth 300 million yuan ($59 million) into China".

      Photographs published by China's state-owned Legal Daily show bottles made by Lulu Island Winery.

      "Neither the winery nor its owner are fully identified by name in the report, which cited an announcement by Shanghai Customs officials in the wake of a series of raids," Young reported.

      Legal Daily told its readers that the winery chairman has invited Chinese tour groups in the past to tour the facility and buy ice wine and wine.

      "After the foreign transactions are conducted, Zhang places the orders and sends it to a distribution centre, which delivers the wine to the customer’s address," Legal Daily stated, according to a translation of the article by a Georgia Straight staffer.

      The head of the winery is identified as "Zhang Mou". And he's been accused of producing false declarations to customs when the wine was shipped to China. Three others were also arrested.

      Lulu Island Winery is owned by John Chang, who travelled to China in 2014 as part of a delegation led by then Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

      Stephen Harper was accompanied by John Chang and other businesspeople on a trip to China in 2014.

      Chang was born in Taiwan and his Richmond winery opened in 2000. According to the company's website, Lulu Island Winery is responsible for 20 percent of all Canadian wine exports to China.

      China cracks down on financial crimes

      White-collar crime has become a popular topic in the Chinese media.

      Since rising to president of the People's Republic of China in 2012, Xi Jinping has launched some far-reaching anticorruption initiatives, which sometimes rely on Internet tipsters to yield results. And he has bagged some big fish, including former Communist Party of China political bureau member Zhou Yongkang and former central military commission vice chair Xu Caihou.

      Another former high-ranking official, Ling Jihua, was given a life sentence for taking bribes and other offences. He used to be the top aide to former president Hu Jintao.

      Xi has reportedly been inspired by former Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew. Lee made stamping out corruption a cornerstone of his efforts to build the Southeast Asian city state into an economic power in the 1960s through to the 1980s.

      Earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund noted that bribery consumes US$1.5 trillion to US$2 trillion per year around the world.

      Update: After this article appeared, Lulu Island Winery issued a news release saying "recent media articles regarding Lulu Island and its founder Mr. John Chang contain many speculative information [sic] that are inaccurate. The information has not been authorized by or verified with Lulu Island Winery. Lulu Island believes all of its wine imports to China have been done in full compliance with all application laws, rules and regulations. We understand Customs authorities in China has [sic] recently conducted investigations regarding the foreign imported wine from a number of countries including Canada. Lulu Island has engaged legal advisors in China to assist with responding to the inquiries. Lulu Island and Mr. Chang have been cooperating fully with Customs authorities with their investigation, and we aree confident tha their investigation will confirm that Lulu Island has not done anything wrong. Lulu Island operate [sic] a busy and successful winery business. We are disappointed with the unsubstantiated speculations that have been reported which are disruptive to our business."

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