• U.S. judge found bank in contempt, fined it $50,000 a day
  • Gucci sought bank records of counterfeiters in China

Bank of China Ltd. turned over records in a case brought by Gucci America Inc. after a U.S. judge fined it $50,000 a day for not complying with subpoenas seeking information about Chinese makers of counterfeit luxury goods.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in New York found the Beijing-based bank in contempt in November for disobeying orders to turn over account information Gucci wanted to help it trace and recover money from the sale of counterfeits. Bank of China claimed Sullivan lacked the authority to order it to produce evidence and said doing so would force it to violate China’s banking laws.

Sullivan’s order cited the bank’s “refusal to comply with U.S. law, while it continues to receive the benefits attendant to its banking activity in the United States.” He said the bank was “flouting” his orders.

"By making today’s document production, BOC has complied with the court’s orders and believes it has purged its contempt," David Esseks, a lawyer for the bank, said in a letter to Sullivan on Wednesday. Esseks said Bank of China believes the document production means it is no longer liable for the daily sanction.

Bank of China, which is controlled by the Chinese government, is one of the biggest banks in the world, with global assets of about $2.5 trillion, $65 billion of which are held by five branches in the U.S.

Brett Philbin, the bank’s spokesman at public relations firm Edelman, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday’s letter. Floriane Geroudet, a spokeswoman for Gucci’s Paris-based parent, Kering SA, didn’t immediately return an e-mail after business hours there.

The case is Gucci America Inc. v. Weixing Li, 10-cv-04974, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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