Heard of China’s Fake Rolexes? Now There’s a Fake Goldman Sachs
China has been accused of pirating movies, handbags, Rolexes — even cars. Add Goldman Sachs to the list.
Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Co. has been operating in the city just across the border from Hong Kong using a nearly identical English and Chinese name as the New York-based financial institution, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. It claims on its website to be one of the city’s largest financial leasing firms.
A receptionist answering the phone at the Shenzhen company who declined to give her name said it’s not affiliated with the U.S. bank and wouldn’t offer how it got its name, emphasizing it includes Shenzhen. It’s the first time she’s been asked the question, she said.
A filing with the Shenzhen government indicates the company has been operating since May 2013. The company uses the same Chinese characters, gao sheng, as the real Goldman Sachs, and its English font is evocative of the U.S. bank’s.
Connie Ling, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, confirmed there are no ties between the U.S. investment bank and the Shenzhen company and said Goldman is looking into the matter.
It’s not the only bank facing brazen name-borrowing. In a more extreme example, a 39-year-old man in eastern China’s Shandong province was arrested earlier in August after setting up a fake branch of China Construction Bank, including card readers, teller counters and signs.
Shenzhen’s Goldman Sachs came to light through a letter sent by a U.S. casino workers union to Chinese officials. The International Union of Operating Engineers said it sent a letter to Wang Qishan, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which is spearheading the biggest anti-corruption crackdown in decades.
The letter called on China’s government to investigate Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen), which it said is a financial services company linked to a group of gambling companies controlled by the family of Cheung Chi-tai. Prosecutors in at least two other court cases alleged he has ties to Chinese organized crime gangs, known as triads. Cheung is awaiting trial and his next court appearance is scheduled for September.
Cheung is a prominent figure in Macau junkets, which facilitate loans to Chinese high rollers in the only Chinese territory where gambling is legal. Casino revenue has fallen as China’s anti-corruption drive has affected junkets.
“Macau’s current gambling regulatory structure we believe is ill-equipped to monitor and adequately regulate a junket’s outside partnerships and financing arrangements,” Jeffrey Fiedler, the U.S. union representative, said in the Aug. 25 letter.
The union has been trying to pressure Chinese and U.S. regulators to investigate Macau, where American casinos such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. have big operations, for possible ties to organized crime and money laundering.
Three phone calls to the office of the CCDI in Beijing went unanswered. An operator with CCDI’s hotline for public reporting said she’s not familiar with the case.
The company’s office is located in a relatively new gleaming high-rise office park along a tree-lined street on the western fringe of Shenzhen, a former fishing village turned global manufacturing powerhouse.
The union said the Shenzhen company is controlled by a Hong Kong-based gold trader unaffiliated with the investment bank. Its connection to Cheung is through relatives, the letter said. The Shenzhen Goldman Sachs’s website was inaccessible as of Wednesday, though it could be viewed in screen grabs captured by the union.
“There have been quite a few cases where Chinese individuals or organizations have registered in China the trademark of an existing and established overseas brand,” Paul Haswell, a Hong Kong-based partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, said in an e-mail.
If history is any guide, Goldman doesn’t have much chance of changing its Shenzhen doppelganger. Basketball legend Michael Jordan lost a case against a Chinese sportswear company that used the Chinese version of his name.
Apple Inc. paid $60 million to settle a trademark dispute with a Chinese company that had applied to block the sale of iPad computer tablets in 2012.
“It’s notoriously difficult for an overseas claimant to persuade the Chinese courts that there has been trademark infringement,” said Haswell. “There’s still a practice of whoever registers first wins.”
Man fakes bank, swindling thousands of dollars in E China
A fake bank busted in E China’s Shandong Province.
A 39-year-old man in east China’s Shandong Province scammed thousands of dollars by faking one of the world’s biggest banks, adding to the list of the country’s jaw-dropping scams this year. The man surnamed Zhang, set up a bogus China Construction Bank outlet with card readers, passbooks, teller counter and convincing-looking logos near the city of Linyi in early July.
Staffed with Zhang’s 15-year-old daughter and two of her classmates, the fraudulent bank lasted less than a month before a local woman surnamed Liu who had deposited 40,000 yuan (6,260 U.S. dollars) could not withdraw the money from a real branch. Managers there spotted the “ghost bank” and helped the woman alert the police.
All is not lost for local savers. Fortunately, Liu was the only victim caught in Zhang’s scam, and has finally got her money back. The fake banker has been taken into custody since Aug. 7. Police charged him with illegally setting up a financial institution.
Scams are common in China, particularly in sectors like banking, telecommunications and electronics. In July this year, Beijing police cracked down a company that allegedly made more than 40,000 fake iPhones worth about 120 million yuan.
There’s a Goldman Sachs knockoff in China — and of course it’s tied to Macau
Multibillion-dollar investment giant Goldman Sachs has a copycat in China.
Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Co., operating in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, next to Hong Kong, has an almost identical name to New York-based financial institution, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
A staffer at Shenzhen Goldman Sachs said any similarity to the US-based bank was unintentional Thursday, weeks after a Chinese man was arrested for setting up a fake bank branch.
“We don’t have any connection with the US Goldman Sachs,” a woman who answered the company’s listed phone number told AFP.
“We just picked the name out, and it’s not intentionally the same,” she added, before hanging up.
A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the US investment bank denied any ties with the Shenzhen company to Bloomberg and said it was “looking into the matter”.
The knockoff company uses the same Chinese characters as Goldman Sachs does.
It was exposed by a letter sent by a US casino workers union to Chinese anti-corruption officials asking them to investigate the firm, Bloomberg News reported.
Even the letter’s font was evocative of the US bank’s letterhead, according to Bloomberg.
The letter exposing the knockoff firm to Chinese officials alleged that the firm was linked to the family of Cheung Chi-tai, which controls a group of gambling companies, Bloomberg reported.
Cheung is a “prominent figure in Macau junkets,” according to the report, and has also been accused by prosecutors of having ties to “triads,” or organized crime gangs in China.
The US-based union has pushed before to have Chinese officials investigate potential organized crime and money laundering in Macau, the gambling hub of China.
The union also said a Hong Kong gold trader was heading the Shenzhen Goldman Sachs, according to Bloomberg.
Not the first fake bank this month
The news came after a 39-year-old man in eastern China was arrested earlier this month for setting up a fake branch of China Construction Bank, including card readers, teller counters and signs, according to state-run media. Duped “customers” were able to hand over money to make supposed deposits into their accounts, but were refused withdrawals, reports said. Enforcement of intellectual property laws in China is regarded as lax, with several foreign firms previously embroiled in court cases over imitators. Basketball star Michael Jordan last month lost a case against a Chinese sportswear company that used the Chinese version of his name. Apple Inc. paid $60 million to settle a trademark dispute with a Chinese company that had applied to block the sale of iPad computer tablets in 2012.
Fake Goldman Sachs bank found in China
Famous for making fake iPhones, Louis Vuitton bags and Rolex watches, China managed to surprise the world once again. A Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Company was found operating in the country without any connection to the US investment giant. “We don’t have any connection with the US Goldman Sachs, we just picked the name out, and it’s not intentionally the same,” a woman who answered the company’s listed phone number told AFP. The company uses the same Chinese characters, gao sheng, as the real Goldman Sachs, and its English font is evocative of the US bank’s. Bloomberg made a filing with the Shenzhen government that reveals the replica Goldman Sachs has been operating since May 2013.
It’s not the first case of setting up fake banks in China. A 39-year-old man in eastern China’s Shandong Province was arrested this month after starting a fake branch of the China Construction Bank with card readers, passbooks, teller counter and convincing looking logos, the Xinhua news agency reported. The bank was taking deposits but didn’t allow withdrawals. “It’s notoriously difficult for an overseas claimant to persuade the Chinese courts that there has been trademark infringement. There’s still a practice of whoever registers first wins,” Paul Haswell, a Hong Kong-based partner at law firm Pinsent Masons told Bloomberg. Basketball legend Michael Jordan lost a case in July against a local sportswear company that used his name in Chinese. In 2012, Apple paid $60 million to Proview Technology (Shenzhen) that first registered the iPad trademark in China in 2001.