An audit report from the Chinese government has revealed how funds were misappropriated to buy vineyards in France and to pay for trips to Las Vegas.
In 2012, the French financial intelligence unit – Tracfin – reported cases of Asian and Eastern European criminal gangs buying vineyards in South West France as channels to launder money. The growing appetite for wine in Asia lends itself perfectly to financial crime. Local banks in Asia are unlikely to know whether a transaction related to buying a vineyard or even shipments of European wine are over or under priced. Wine is valued differently in different parts of the world, due to demand, supply and import taxes which can be particularly high in Asia.
If the audit report is correct, it looks like it was not only criminal gangs cashing in on the rising popularity of wine-drinking in China.