Luxury brands business LVMH owes Italian police a drink or two after officers from the financial squad uncovered more than 9,000 bottles of fake Moët & Chandon champagne in a shed near the city of Padua, in Northern Italy’s Veneto region.
The counterfeiters used prosecco- Italian sparkling – worth just a few euros per bottle – to produce 9,200 fake bottles of Moët, worth an estimated €350,000 euros ($AU540,000).
The Guardia di Finanza announced the find this week, several weeks after the raid just before Christmas. Eight people – police say some were Sinti (Romani) with long existing criminal records – were at the shed are now facing charges over the forgery scam.
The first hint that there was a counterfeiting operation underway came months earlier when financial police investigating another business noticed a Moët & Chandon bottle that lacked a serial number.
They launched a separate surveillance operation to discover the scam’s location and found a labelling machine, along with 40,000 fabricated Moët & Chandon labels, which would have produced bubbly valued €1.8 million ($AU2.8m).
Police believe the forgeries were destined for Northern Europe, including Germany. Chemical analysis by customs confirmed it was “white sparkling wine” at 11.62% alcohol.
The seized wine will be donated to local wine co-ops once police have finished their investigations. Documents were also seized following raids on several houses and the financial police are now investigating whether the syndicate produced other fake luxury goods.
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