Birkin handbag

PARIS — A Paris criminal court Thursday handed prison sentences to 10 people in a case of counterfeit Hermès Birkin bags, including seven former employees of the French luxury firm, Agence France Presse has reported. 

The toughest sentence, three years of prison and a 200,000 euro fine, handed to a defendant who was not present. 

As reported, the trial took place on June 24 to 26 at the Paris Criminal Court. 

Seven former employees were accused of counterfeiting around 148 bags over four years between 2011 and 2014, netting more than 4 million euros by selling them to unwitting customers in Asia, especially Hong Kong.

The fake bags, created with offcuts, metal parts and tools that the employees had squirreled away, were sold for about 23,500 euros and 32,000 euros, according to court documents — around half of the 44,000 euro price tag of a genuine version in-store at the time.

The ring also resold bags created under the “bon au personnel” provision, which allows Hermès employees to acquire the elements and make their own bags, identified by a shooting star stamp, and strictly for personal use.

Fines of 100,000 euros were handed to two other defendants who also received prison sentences of as much as three years, including a woman who sold the bags to Asian buyers, reported AFP.

Hermès, which had asked for 2 million euros in damages, was awarded 580,000 euros, according to the report. 

Hermès declined to comment.

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