Eurojust and Europol assisted judicial and law enforcement authorities in France, Italy, Germany, Cyprus and the Netherlands in a successful joint operation to dismantle an international network involved in the forgery and smuggling of one of the most expensive French wine brands, Romanée-Conti. A bottle of the 2009 vintage sells for up to EUR 9 500.
The investigation began in France in December 2012 after complaints by companies and was carried out jointly by the French Gendarmerie (Section de Recherches of Dijon) and the Central Office for the fight against environmental damage and for public health (OCLAESP). The identified victims were companies located in France and Italy.
The judicial and law enforcement authorities of Italy, Germany, Cyprus and the Netherlands were involved in executing letters of request submitted by France. The first transactions involving counterfeit wine took place in Italy, and links to Russia, Hong Kong, Belize and Switzerland were identified through involved actors, companies and bank accounts.
The main focus of the action day was in Italy (16 October). Excellent support was provided by the Italian judicial and law enforcement authorities.
Approximately twenty house and company searches were conducted and seven individuals were arrested for interrogation or for witness interviews. Two of these individuals were arrested upon the execution of European Arrest Warrants that were issued during the day of action.
Eurojust supported the successful management of the case by facilitating the transmission and execution of mutual legal assistance requests and holding two coordination meetings this year, in which the scope and details of the joint operation were discussed and scheduled.
An operational coordination centre was set up at Eurojust on the action day, run by Eurojust’s French, German and Italian Desks, with the assistance of the Case Analysis Unit. The operation was further supported by Europol’s mobile office. Europol will follow up with forensic work and analysis. This multi-agency approach brings significant added value to the operation running across five Member States.
For more information, please contact:
Ms Leen DE ZUTTER, Press & PR Service
Tel.: +31 70 412 5507
Mr Søren PEDERSEN, Chief of Media & PR
Tel.: +31 70 302 5001