Sun Xitai, a 62-year-old businessman in China has been sentenced to life in prison. His crime? Bringing about $7 million worth of wine, mostly Bordeaux, from Hong Kong to mainland China and failing to pay sufficient duty.
You can get the whole story in an interesting post on Bordeaux Undiscovered. The post cites China’s Legal Daily saying that 70 percent of imported red wine is smuggled, which seems a staggering amount. Travelers from Hong Kong to China are allowed to bring one liter of wine or spirits legally.
While I don’t know the details of this case and how much was imported when, but it does seem odd that the period involved is 2004-2009. After all, Hong Kong scrapped wine duty in only in 2008; before that it was higher than the mainland, where the duties total about 50 percent of the imported price. So this harsh punishment may be more to set an example to curtail such activities.
He had this final comment about the duties: “It would be difficult to stay in business if I went through official channels.”