A Spanish brandy firm with a base in the country of Georgia is being investigated after it was discovered that it had potentially shipped up to four million litres of counterfeit brandy across Europe.
The Altosa Group, who own the Georgian distillery, are currently under investigation after it emerged that the brandy they were importing to fellow EU countries such as France and Spain was a type of corn brandy, a much cheaper alternative to the EU regulated wine brandy.
The scheme was detected after Georgia’s strict export practices led to the realisation that four million litres had left the country without proper certification.
Georgian Wine, used in the manufacture of the brandy, holds huge national economic importance to the country and because of such; the National Wine Agency was born.
The director of the Agency, Levan Mekhuzla, explained, “At the agency we grant certificates to all companies that want to export wine and pass controls, and without these certificates it is forbidden to export”
“After compiling our end of year analysis, we found that four million litres of alcohol had left the country without a certificate. And they all belonged to Iberica Spirits, the Georgian company owned by the Spanish winery Altosa”.
Authorities have confirmed that multiple forged documents across a number of countries have led to the false export of the counterfeit brandy, a fact that the CEO of Altosa, Pedro José López Montero, firmly denies.
In an interview with the media last July, he pointed the finger at Georgian business partner Solomon Akhalkatsi.
Akhalkatsi releaseda counter statement explaining, “When I worked at Iberica Spirits, I received daily orders from Mr. López Montero about how I should run the company and the types of product I should sell to each customer. Lopez Montero was very involved in Iberica’s day-to-day operations.”
The investigation continues.