Paris-based luxury brand Hermes has teamed up with French police to dismantle an €18-million (US$22.7 million) international counterfeit handbag syndicate, arresting a dozen company staff believed to have been leaking designs and manufacturing secrets to the criminal operation.
A display of colorful handbags at a Hermes store. (Photo/Chen Hsin-han)
On Thursday Hermes, one of the most popular luxury brands in China, announced it had teamed up with local police to bust a crime ring that specialized in counterfeiting the iconic brand’s handbags. Two Hermes staff have been sacked and 12 others have been arrested in the company’s offices in Paris and Lyon on suspicion of being involved. Police also uncovered several clandestine factories and seized 20 cubic meters of bags and raw materials.
A large number of international bank accounts said to hold hundreds of thousands of euros have been linked to the syndicate, including 22 accounts from Hong Kong and three from Cyprus.
French police launched an investigation into the counterfeit syndicate after Hermes appealed for help last November. The high-fashion luxury goods manufacturer assisted in the probe by using its internal monitoring systems to detect unusual behavior among staff.
Authorities believe the syndicate had been operating across Europe, the United States and Asia, and in recent years expanded to making sales on the internet. France’s national anti-counterfeiting committee estimates that counterfeit goods cost the local economy €6 billion (US$7.46 billion) a year, and between 30,000 and 40,000 jobs.
The bust comes about two weeks after France launched a new anti-counterfeiting advertising campaign, which ran slogans such as “Buy a fake Cartier, get a genuine criminal record.”
Hermes CEO Patrick Thomas has been critical of internet retailers, search engines and social media websites, saying they have fostered the rapid growth of counterfeit goods and distribution channels worldwide. Thomas estimates that 80% of Hermes products sold on the internet are fake.
News content from: WantChinaTimes