The Chinese ecommerce site Alibaba has been suspended from an anti-counterfeiting group over concerns that it is not doing enough to halt the sales of fake brand-name goods through the site.
Alibaba joined the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) in April 2016 after the Coalition created a new membership category. However, IACC board members reacted angrily after the Associated Press revealed that the Coalition’s President, Bob Barchiesi, was an Alibaba stockholder with close ties to a company executive.
The IACC blamed “a weakness in our corporate governance procedures” for the fact that this potential conflict of interest was not disclosed to the board. Many IACC members had resented Alibaba being allowed to join as they believed that the site was not strict enough in preventing fakes being sold through the platform.
Barchiesi maintains that his investments in Alibaba are completely separate from his anti-counterfeiting work, and that they played no part in Alibaba being allowed to join the coalition.
Two other ecommerce sites, Wish.com and The RealReal, were also suspended from the IACC, which is to review its admissions procedures following these revelations as part of an overhaul conducted by an independent third party.
Alibaba has been trying to shed its image as a retailer of cheap counterfeit goods, and so saw admission to the IACC as a major feather in its cap. However, Head of International Affairs Jennifer Kuperman said in a statement that “Whether or not we are a member of the IACC, we will continue our productive and results-oriented relationships with brands, governments, and all industry partners”, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Alibaba reports that it is to extend its cloud-based services, currently confined to China, into Japan. The company is working with Japanese firm SoftBank to provide cloud-based security and payments processing.