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Anti-fraud squad raids Burgundy producer Bejot Vins et Terroirs

Published:  04 April, 2016

A judicial investigation into suspected fraudulent wine production in France is underway following a major customs police swoop in the heart of Burgundy.

French customs agents and an anti-fraud squad, raided leading negociant, producer and exporter, Bejot Vins et Terroirs, last Wednesday, taking away company documents and computers in a case allegedly involving tax fraud and the production of tens of thousands of hectolitres of wine made from blends from different appellations.

During the raid, Mathieu Carrara, oenologist and technical director of Bejot Vins et Terroirs, was taken away for questioning under France's garde-a-vue system, but later released without charge on Friday April 1st, said regional newspaper Le Bien Public.

The raid on the headquarters of Bejot Vins et Terroirs in Meursault and its offices in Nuit-St Georges and Savigny-Les Beaune in Burgundy involved customs police and agents from France's anti-fraud squad, the DGCCRF (Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des frauds). It reportedly follows an inquiry launched several months ago following a tip-off from an anonymous source.

Following the swoop, Bejot Vins et Terroirs owner, Vincent Sauvestre, confirmed the detention of Carrara, telling FR3 Bourgogne TV that he was "enormously surprised" by the inquiry and that had no knowledge about the blends of wines in his company's winery. On its company website, Bejot Vins et Terroirs says its sells more than 10 million bottles of wine a year; it is ranked as the third largest wine business in Burgundy with a turnover, in 2015 of more than €50.7m (£40.5m).

The company has a total of 260 ha of vines in Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone and in Southern France and more than half of its sales are international exports.

Burgundy's generic body, the BIVB of Bourgogne said the facts of the inquiry remained in the hands of France's customs and the ant-fraud squad. "We know nothing other than what we have heard in the press," a spokesman told

The BIVB of Bourgogne announced its would be a civil party in the judicial enquiry. "This will give us access to documents surrounding the probe. We want to know what evidence there is. If there is any evidence of any fraud, then we will sue the company over damage and interests for harming the image of Burgundy," the spokesman said.

The BIVB of Bourgogne said there was a strict control system on wine producers in place in Burgundy and that despite recent cases of fraud, it strongly denied that malpractice in winemaking was widespread. In a statement, Bejot Vins et Terroirs however said the raid on its premises comes "within the context of several judicial inquiries into the Burgundy [wine sector]."

The company said that despite the investigation, it remains open for business and is operational without any constraint.

The raid on Bejot Vins et Terroirs comes after two eighty-year-old brothers from negociant, Laboure-Roi, based in Nuit-St Georges were fined €37,500 (£29,954) each on March 21st, 2016, after admitting charges related to making wines from different appellations and falsifying labels.

In May this year, Jean-Claude Fromont, owner of Fromont in Ligny-le-Châtel, was imprisoned on charges related to making fake Chablis.