We’ve covered some weird stories on Arseblog News over the last seven years and this is right up there.
On 23 April 2018, Arsenal confirmed that BYD Auto, the world’s best-selling electric vehicle manufacturer, had become the club’s official car and bus partner.
There was the usual congratulatory statement from chief commercial officer Vinai Venkatesham and this was backed up by warm words from Sherry Li, BYD’s brand and public relations director.
In simple terms, BYD became an official partner of the club, at the same level as brands such as Cooper Tires, Gatorade, Vitality and WorldRemit. Presumably, the club’s coffers would have swelled as a result of the deal while at the same time giving us a useful platform for Arsenal promotion in China and the Far East.
Alas, all is not as it seems.
Last week, BYD released a statement:
We have found some illegal entities and/or individuals carrying out advertising business by forging our company’s seal and/or conducting it on behalf of our company (“Fraud Issues”). We made a statement on our website on June 13th 2018. The criminal suspect Li Juan (English name: Liki Li) has been detained by the Chinese Public Security Authority after our reporting.
Hereby we reiterate that BYD was never involved in and is not responsible for any fraud issues. Please make sure to report to the authority responsible whenever you find yourself a victim.
Arsenal then followed suit via social media site Weibo:
BYD has informed Arsenal that they believe they have been the victim of a fraud in relation to various advertising agreements. this includes our partnership with BYD which was formally launched by both parties at an event at the Emirates on 8th May. We are investigating the situation and discussing it with senior level BYD representatives who were involved in the launch of the partnership. We will make no further comments on this matter.
Bloomberg has pieced together a few more details and it appears somebody has been posing as a BYD employee and signing unauthorised marketing contracts in the company’s name. Including the one with Arsenal.
The person in question, a woman called Li Juan, has been arrested by Shanghai authorities.
BYD claims that Li has never been an employee but, according to China’s Global Times, that didn’t stop her from renting offices in the company’s name, forging a BYD stamp and undertaking advertising deals with a number of companies. For three years!
It’s all a bit ‘Catch Me If You Can’. Quite how you get this far in the digital age is amazing. It’s actually quite impressive. Not that we applaud criminal activity.
The situation has taken an immediate toll on BYD with the company falling by as much as 5.1 percent in Hong Kong.
We contacted Arsenal for a comment but were informed by a club spokesman that they have nothing to add to the original statement.
As we said at the top of the article, it’s all very weird. We’ll keep a close eye out for any further developments.
Thanks to @RYO_cleverfish for the heads up.