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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Watchdog Bungles Spirits Suspension

bloombergThe Federal Consumer Protection Service mistakenly announced that Pernod Ricard's license had been suspended.
The Federal Consumer Protection Service's Moscow branch had egg on its face after it mistakenly announced that Pernod Ricard, the world's No. 2 wine and spirits company, had had its license suspended.

A statement saying that Pernod Ricard's Russian subsidiary, P.R. Rus, had its wholesale alcohol sales license suspended was posted on the service's web site Tuesday. It listed eight other alcohol market players, saying that their licenses were also suspended by the Federal Tax Service's Moscow branch at the request of the consumer protection service.

"It was a mistake," a spokesman for the watchdog said. "It happens."

Dated, incorrect information was given to the press service for publication, he said, adding that everyone was under a lot of pressure and that the department's chief was on vacation.

The statement caused a stir -- including front-page stories in the country's two largest business newspapers, Vedomosti and Kommersant -- before it disappeared from the service's web site Wednesday.

The phones at the Moscow office of P.R. Rus were ringing off the hook after the statement was released, said Olga Kasatkina, the company's spokeswoman, adding that P.R. Rus didn't have any problems with licenses.

"We are working as usual," she said.

P.R. Rus distributes Jameson's whiskey, Armenian cognacs produced by Yerevan Cognac Enterprise and Pernod Ricard brands including Havana Club rum.

Retailers and importers have been struggling for weeks with delays in the introduction of new customs labels for imported wine and spirits that have left store shelves empty of many popular liquor brands.