Spain’s Altosa probed over counterfeit brandy links

Spanish company Altosa is under investigation over claims that it shipped millions of litres of counterfeit brandy to European countries.

The probe – prompted by Spanish newspaper El Mundo – centres around Iberica Spirits, a Georgian subsidiary of Altosa that is alleged to have exported 4m litres of brandy without the proper certifications from the Georgian authorities.

Citing Georgian government sources, the newspaper claims that Iberica exported corn liquor rather than the much more expensive wine-based brandy that is subject to strict controls laid down by the EU – not least that it can only be produced from grapes.

It describes a scam in which corn alcohol was purchased in Moldova, transported to Bulgaria where it was stored before being shipped to Georgia with falsified documentation claiming it was wine-distilled alcohol, and then exported to wineries in countries including France and Spain.

Georgia’s National Wine Agency responsible for quality control and certification of wines produced in the country insists that the exported volume of alcohol exceeds the production capacity of Iberica Spirits’ facility.

The allegations have been flatly denied by Altosa chief executive Pedro José López Montero, who has blamed Georgian business partner Solomon Akhalkatsi. The latter in turn insists that he has no part in the wrongdoings of which Altosa is suspected and that, in any case, López Montero was fully aware of the “day-to-day operations” of Iberica Spirits.

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