A company has been fined 4 million yuan (5,000) and 11 people jailed for three to 15 years for illegally producing and selling fake infant formula under the popular brands "Beingmate" and "Similac," the Shanghai No. 3 Intermediate People's Court said.
The court said the Jingu packing factory in Jining City in Shandong Province and five defendants — Chen Mingjiang, Gu Chuansheng, Pan Xingbing, Wu Lingjie and Tang Jinghong — had conspired to pack and sell unqualified products as qualified infant formula.
Another four defendants — Zheng Honggui, Zhu Quanqin, Wu Yongjun and Cai Yonggao — had helped make the cans and trademark labels for illegal profit despite knowing they were making and selling fake products in the name of the popular brands, the court said.
Another two defendants, surnamed Du and Li, had helped sell the fake products.
The court found the factory and defendants made between 560,000 yuan and 3.6 million yuan. It said the Jingu factory, Chen, Gu, Pan and Tang were principal culprits.
Chen, Gu and Pan were sentenced to 15 years' jail and fined from 550,000 to 700,000 yuan. Tang, Wu, Zheng, Zhu, Wu and Cai were jailed between four and seven years and fined 50,000-300,000 yuan.
Du was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined 400,000 yuan, Li was sentenced to three years with a suspension of four years as well as a 100,000 yuan fine.
The court had heard that the defendants Chen and Pan had started the network in August 2014, when they founded Jingu and ordered 40,000 cans with fake Beingmate trademarks.
They filled 9,000 cans with cheap domestic formula and sold them for 1.61 million yuan.
The network started to fabricate Similac trademarks from April 2015, having made more than 20,000 fake Similac cans and fabricated 30,000 labels, said prosecutors.
They said that the cans were transported to Jining and Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, for filling.
The suspects sold about 13,994 cans for just under 2 million yuan, prosecutors said.
The gang was caught after Abbott Laboratories, which owns the Similac brand, complained to police in 2015 that fake products were on the market.