July 22, 2016 - 3:58 PM
WEST KELOWNA – The owner of a West Kelowna winery currently being built has been arrested in China for allegedly smuggling millions of dollars worth of Canadian icewine, according to the Vancouver Sun and Chinese media.
John Chang is the owner of several wineries in B.C. including a $30 million wine destination in West Kelowna that has yet to open to the public.
Chinese state-owned media Legal Daily reports Chang was arrested following an investigation into “icewine import-data anomalies.”
The anomalies amount to almost $60 million worth of wine and icewine that was declared to be worth less than $2 but is in fact worth up to $100 per bottle.
A total of 18 individuals were arrested following several raids that took place March 25 in Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Shenshen and Xiamen.
The charges could result in imprisonment from 10 years to life in prison as well as a fine of at least 100 per cent of the taxes evaded.
Grizzli Winery was originally scheduled to open in the spring but the company website now lists the opening as summer 2016.
An employee, who would not give his name, says the delay has nothing to do with Chang’s arrest.
“We are going through inspection with the City of West Kelowna and it’s in progress,” he says. “The company is not taking any other media interviews.”
Chang also owns Lulu Island Winery in Richmond, which took first place in the 2014 All Canadian Wine Competition.
Chang was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada in 1995. He founded Blossom Winery in 200 and Lulu Island Winery in 2007.
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