COMBATING THE COUNTERFEITING OF DISTILLED SPIRITS WHEREVER IT OCCURS
The Alliance Against Counterfeit Spirits (“AACS”) represents the world’s major international spirits producing companies. AACS has been in operation since the early 1990s with one single purpose - to combat the counterfeiting of its members’ distilled spirits brands. It is active in more than 30 countries and has 6 members of AACS: Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Diageo, Edrington Group, Pernod Ricard and William Grant & Sons.
AACS systematically identifies outlets where counterfeit spirits are sold. It tracks and traces the manufacturers of counterfeit spirits and their criminal associates, including their suppliers of dry goods (bottles, caps, labels). AACS works closely with local, national and international law enforcement and regulatory agencies by:
- providing training in counterfeit recognition and sharing information about counterfeiting activities
- supporting agencies during inspections of wholesale and retail premises and raids of counterfeit manufacturing and storage sites
- formally identifying counterfeit products (AACS teams are trained and have been duly authorized by the brand owners), and assisting with the detection and prosecution of offenders
- raising awareness of spirits counterfeiting
As a single point of contact for its members on all spirits counterfeiting issues, AACS makes it as straightforward and efficient as possible for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to seek expert advice and assistance in their fight against counterfeiters.
AACS and its members are concerned that the current restrictions to legitimate supply chains and routes to market in force around the globe have given counterfeiters and illicit traders an unprecedented opportunity to increase their supply of dangerous and substandard goods. The actions of counterfeiters pose a direct health risk to consumers, erode legitimate tax revenues and undermine consumer trust in well established brands.
In response to this heightened threat AACS has developed a global market tracking database to provide members and stakeholders with live analysis of all regulatory measures restraining legitimate spirits distribution (from the closure of the on-trade and the virtual elimination of duty free to the complete ban of spirits trading that is deemed “non essential”).
We have also increased our active monitoring of counterfeiting activity around the globe to detect signs of a possible spike in spirits illicit trade (not only on counterfeits but also more broadly on smuggling and illicit parallel). For this we leverage the network of AACS service providers and partner with key international LEA authorities including Interpol and OLAF (the European anti-fraud branch).
We will use the insights gained from these tools to stay ahead of the counterfeiters in the markets where it matters most by taking the following actions:
- increase our investigation efforts against the manufacturers of counterfeit spirits and their criminal associates
- lobby Governments to prioritize the response to fraud among COVID-19 emergency measures, allocate resources to blocking distribution of fakes, warn consumers about the risks of fake and fraudulent products, especially online sales,
- encourage law enforcement to clamp down on violators and establish a coordinated national strategy to share intelligence, best practices and cooperate on cross-border investigations
- work with internet eCommerce platforms to amplify policing and takedown of online sales of counterfeit products.