Greece Still One of World’s Gateways for Counterfeit Goods

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, file)

Occasional busts by Greek police of counterfeit goods rings hasn’t helped the country’s ranking or reputation for letting street sellers peddle fake goods, with the country 14th in the world for illicit good traffic.

That was shown in a report from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with the country

With the port of Piraeus being one of the busiest in the Mediterranean and Europe, the data – from 2016, the latest available – showed the European Union awash in counterfeit goods.

Those are mainly lather goods, watches, perfumes and cosmetics, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses, toys, electronic goods such as cell phones, drugs and with smuggled cigarettes sold openly on streets in Athens, even around areas with police stations.

According to confiscations by customs authorities in the European Union, the main countries of origin of the fake stuff are China, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, India and Malaysia. China is the top producer of counterfeit goods in nine out of the 10 main categories.

In August, 2017, EUIPO and the European Police Office (Europol) showed Greece a key entry point for the counterfeit goods, including jewelry, cosmetics, toys, fake handbags, knock off designer products, watches, clothes and other goods sold openly, especially in tourist areas.

Also being hurt though are Greek trademark products, such as bogus feta cheese being sneaked into the country and resold as the report found the counterfeit goods market is much higher than previously thought.

Some 85 billion euros ($100.27 billion) per year is being lost to the counterfeit products which annually are believed to be a 390 billion euro ($460.06 billion) market, including fake perfumes, cosmetics, clothing footwear among the most common imitation products entering the EU.

In Greece, a total of 7,306,656 packets of cigarettes deemed illegal were confiscated in 2015, according to the report, as they were sold on the streets by hordes of illegal immigrants even near police stations.

The authors of the report estimated that Greece, close to the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, is likely a gateway for the fakes – as well as smuggled cigarettes – as it is for refugees and migrants hoping to move on to other EU countries.

The other projection is that Greek customs authorities are focusing their efforts on people smuggling the genuine product in from abroad without the payment of domestic duty, Kathimerini said.

Greek authorities, the report noted, that year had confiscated 496,000 imitation-brand packets of cigarettes from Vietnam discovered at the port of Piraeus, along with 500,000 packages in a truck heading for Poland.

Other foods and beverages caught up in the racket include alcoholic drinks (wine included), cheese, meat, fruit, vegetables and cereals. Food and beverage producers in Greece, Germany, Spain, France and Italy are the worst affected in the EU, according to the report.

COLLEGE GROUNDS

In January this year, a foreign-led violent gang of criminals using an asylum law to hide and operate inside the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) was broken up by a Greek police operation after plainclothes officers inside the school narrowly escaped with their lives from an anarchist-led attack, authorities said.

That assault happened on Sept. 14 with the officers running from bat-wielding assailants using the university as a hideout and base under a law reinstated by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, which is riddled with anarchist terrorist sympathizers.

The law prevents police from entering university grounds under almost any circumstance and has been used by various groups to use colleges from which to launch waves of criminal activity and be protected from arrest.

The ring inside AUEB was run by a 46-year-old Bangladeshi and 43-year-old Senegalese which police believe control illicit trade around the school that had been repeatedly reported to police and the government with no response, leading officials there to close it Policemen found that, around the university, a large network of spotters was operating with the mission to protect the “AUEB core,” the migrants from Senegal, Nigeria, Somalia, Iran, Afghanistan and Bangladesh that were selling the drugs, contraband cigarettes and imitation brand goods, Kathimerini reported.

A police operation on Dec. 22 led to 36 arrests, including the two ringleaders who had organized the attack on police who had been conducting surveillance at the school and around the area.

It was observed that about 30 migrants were employed between 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day. They sold on average about 100 handbags, shoes and glasses, all imitations of well-known brands; 1,500 cartons of contraband cigarettes and 20 fixes of heroin and crystal meth. Daily turnover was estimated from 5,000-10,000 euros ($5758-$11,515).

Outside AUEB’s central gate, eight individuals were selling contraband cigarettes and four were dealing heroin and, especially, crystal meth, also known as sisa. The drugs were stored in the school’s courtyard, near the gate. When they exited AUEB to meet their clients, the sellers hit the drugs in their mouths, the paper said.

The operation turned up links to an illicit trade network in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, and overland imports of imitation brands from Turkey, the report said, adding that most of those apprehended had been arrested for the same offenses previously with the Bangladeshi ringleader taken into custody three times and released.