Da vinci says cctv reports were biased
The saga of luxury furniture retailer Da Vinci has taken a new twist, with the chain accusing state broadcaster China Central Television of biased reporting.
The company says it transferred one million yuan (HK$1.23 million) into a Hong Kong bank account as a bribe allegedly demanded by a CCTV reporter to 'settle' the bad publicity, Caixin Century magazine reported.
The reporter, Li Wenxue, issued a statement accusing Da Vinci of 'framing and slandering' him.
Da Vinci has been under fire since July, after two CCTV programmes hosted by Li alleged the Singapore-based firm was selling on the mainland furniture from the Italian brand Cappelletti that had been produced in Dongguan, Guangdong.
In the coverage, Peng Jie, the supposed general manager of the Changfeng Furniture factory, said he produced for Da Vinci each year 50 million yuan worth of goods that were shipped to Italy before being re-imported for sale.
Da Vinci has issued statements saying Peng is not a Changfeng employee but an independent businessman who works with several Dongguan furniture factories.
Caixin Century magazine reported at the weekend that Peng - the chief source of the allegations in the CCTV programmes - had said the factory did not in fact make Cappelletti furniture and that he had 'exaggerated' to get a 'big order' from Li, who had pretended to be a buyer.
Another key interviewee in the programmes, disgruntled customer Tang Ying , had been taken to court by Da Vinci three times in September 2010, to settle a commercial dispute, the magazine added. No mention of the court cases was made in the CCTV programmes.
Caixin reported Da Vinci had given Tang 'harmonisation' funds of 4.5 million yuan in July before paying the bribe into the bank account.
The magazine obtained a video that apparently showed CCTV reporter Zhu Feng interviewing a Cappelletti executive at the company's headquarters in Italy who said its products that Da Vinci sold were '100 per cent genuine'.
The video shows the reporter calling Li in China and questioning the direction he was setting for the programme, which did not include that part of the interview.
Li issued a statement on Sunday insisting his reports were accurate, demanding an apology and saying he was preparing to take legal action.
Da Vinci's boss, Doris Phua, gave a bizarre press conference a week after the first CCTV programme aired. She broke down in tears and made a rambling, incoherent plea to be given 'another chance'.
Investigations by customs authorities in Shanghai and Guangdong did not support all the claims made by CCTV but did find problems with Da Vinci's management and the quality of furniture in its warehouses.
Shanghai's Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau fined the firm 1.33 million yuan last month for 'substandard' and incorrectly labelled furniture.
The amount in yuan that Shanghai authorities fined Da Vinci last month for 'substandard' and incorrectly labelled products