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Chinese custom officials swoop on wine importers

Published:  23 July, 2008

Chinese custom officials are investigating wine importers following a surge in wine imports.

At least one executive of a major wine importer, Don St Pierre Jr, managing partner of ASC Fine Wines, has been detained as part of a broad inspection of the industry according to The Associated Press.

He has not been charged with any crime and has not been arrested, Chinese officials confirmed.

"We are cracking down on some wine importing companies that are suspected of falsifying prices and the case has been handed over to the Customs Smuggling Prevention Department, a spokesman for the Shanghai Customs Office said.

Customs figures show imports surging 52% in the first nine months of 2007 from the same period in 2006 to 102million litres.

The surge in wine imports a result of a cut in import tariffs to 14% from 65% a few years ago.