Hermes counterfeiter jailed for life in China

Hermes Birkin bag detailThe leader of a criminal gang engaged in the manufacture and distribution of fake Hermès handbags has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Chinese court.

Xiao Zhenjiang received the life sentence for his part in the operation, which operated from a 500 sq. m. facility in Dongguan, Guangzhou province, and was raided by local enforcement agencies in February. 

The raid uncovered around $16m-worth of fake Hermès handbags, purses and other items, along with considerable quantities of leather and other raw materials used in their production. Some Hermes bags can retail for several thousand dollars, such as the iconic Hermes Birkin line, but cheap knock-offs can be bought around the world for a fraction of that price.

Xiao also had personal property confiscated, while three accomplices received sentences of between seven and 10 years in prison along with fines of between $80,000 and $125,000.

The severe sentence is being seen as something of a broadside by the Chinese authorities against copiers of premium brands, with counterfeit production not only damaging the country's international reputation but also having an increasing impact on domestic brand holders.

Hermès estimates that more than three quarters of the counterfeit copies of its products in circulation originate from China.

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