Case study: Dismantling of a major trans-national counterfeiting ring (BrandProtect)


The challenge

A very large European industrial concern active, among other areas, in the skin cosmetics business detected a disruption of one of his South-Asian markets, the point of origin possibly being a neighbouring country with a manufacturing activity in yet another country. AGR was contracted to investigate.

Our approach

Starting from retail points and combining this with national and regional field intelligence, AGR soon discovered the local source of the products but also uncovered a large trans-border traffic, indeed bringing the products from a neighbouring country. Further to this, we managed to trace the production site to a third larger country in the north of Asia but with a “mixing-packaging” plant in the second country and a distribution network over a few countries, including the one where the products were first detected by the client. Once we had mapped the whole organization and pinpointed a soon to come shipment from the manufacturing country, the client then decided to use international official channels to approach the authorities of the “middle link country” where the manufacturer’s family was well connected but which showed the best promises in terms of potential quantities to be seized. AGR objected to this method and warned the client accordingly, drawing his attention to the corruption level in this particular country and the risk of having no results at the end of the day. The client, encouraged by the international authorities continued in this direction and the results were disastrous. The client then came back to AGR and gave us an unconditional free hand to restart the investigation and use whatever means necessary to bring it to a successful conclusion. It took AGR six months to do just that and the case culminated in the largest anti-counterfeiting raid ever organized in that country which netted very large quantities of the client’s goods but also of other brands.

The impact

A major transnational manufacturing/packaging/distribution network of counterfeiters was annihilated, the local authorities acknowledged for the first time the extent of the collusion between such organizations and some members of the authorities and legal action was taken for the first time ever against such groups. The financial losses to this group were extensive and the disruption to their business was long lasting.

What the client valued

The fact that AGR did not shy away from a complicated case involving transnational organized crime, working over 3 countries with a minimum assistance from the local authorities and accepting to pass its findings over to the authorities chosen by the client in total transparency while warning them of the risk. More importantly, the client was supremely impressed by the fact that AGR subsequently accepted the challenge to restart the case until it was brought to fruition.

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