Loïc Pasquet, the renowned French winemaker behind Liber Pater wines, has been charged with fraud over the misuse of nearly €600,000 (approximately $650,000 USD) in agricultural subsidies distributed by the European Union.
Pasquet, whose wines sell for up to £2,500 a bottle (approximately $3500 USD), was given €592,000 (approximately $646,000 USD) in farming subsidies between 2010 and 2012, with the intended purpose of promoting his luxury wines in Russia, China, and Brazil, according to the Telegraph.
An investigation into the distribution of Pasquet’s subsidies, however, revealed that they had not been used for promotional campaigns as intended. A state prosecutor, Catherine Figerou, called the campaigns “fictional,” while Pasquet told a Bordeaux court that he had been deceived by a company in Shanghai that had promised to promote Liber Pater, but failed to do so.
Pasquet is also accused of misusing subsidies by planting important historic grape varieties that were wiped out by a plague in the 1800s, but failing to use any of the varietals in his wines. The winemaker told presiding judge Caroline Baret that he planted the grapes for research, but “that did not mean they were present in my bottles.”
Pasquet was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and a €10,000 fine, and has been ordered to pay back €230,000 of the subsidies he received. Pasquet’s family has already paid back €300,000 in subsidies, and says that the winemaker will appeal his conviction.