London, 22 February 2005: BPI TACKLES BOLLYWOOD FRAUD
Asian independent labels welcome jailing of counterfeiter
A major distributor of counterfeit Bollywood DVDs was today jailed for three years for running a Bollywood film counterfeiting operation that generated up to £26,000 a month and cost taxpayers and independent British music companies hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost revenue.
The result was welcomed by Britain's independent Bollywood music and film distributors, who face a daily struggle with piracy - at 40% the Bollywood music and film piracy rate is well above that of mainstream music and film.
Avtar Panesar, from the UK independent label Yash Raj Films said: "The BPI and Trading Standards have worked tirelessly for two years on this case and this judgement has come as a great boost to all of us in the independent sector."
Mr Jayanti Amarishi Buhecha, from Cambridge, was found guilty of two trade mark offences at Harrow Crown Court on January 25 2005 after an investigation by UK recorded music industry's trade association the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Department led to a criminal prosecution.
Following a seven-day trial, the jury found Mr Buhecha, who traded as Arts 2000, guilty of two offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 for distributing counterfeit Bollywood movies between January 2002 and January 2003.
The DVDs were manufactured in Pakistan and Malaysia and were imported into the UK by Buhecha who sold them wholesale to shops in London and the Midlands.
When sentencing Buhecha to 3 years imprisonment Judge Madge told him he was one of the "biggest Bollywood pirates in the UK" and that "a heavy penalty was called for because of the enormous damage he caused to legitimate business"
Massive profits tempted once legal distributor into illegal trade
The BPI initially commissioned a surveillance team to monitor his business activities in January 2002 having received complaints regarding Mr Buhecha's trade in fakes.
Buhecha had once worked legitimately within the Indian film industry by arranging screenings of Indian films for his local community to enjoy, and went on to become an authorised distributor of DVDs and videos for major Asian movie company Yash Raj Films.
But Buhecha moved into the counterfeit trade, and in 2002 was suspended from duty and sued by his former employers after being caught dealing in counterfeit copies of their Bollywood blockbuster 'Mohabbatein'.
Buhecha gave an undertaking not to deal in counterfeit product, and agreed to pay £16,000 in damages. But he immediately went back to his lucrative counterfeiting business which the courts learned generated an estimated income of £26,000 a month.
Despite Buhecha's business records showing only a turnover of only £45,000 a year, he also admitted in court that he traded primarily in cash and had deliberately under-reported sales in order to avoid tax.
Covert surveillance and raids revealed extent of counterfeit Bollywood Empire
In December 2002, Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Service were called to Wembley's GEC Industrial Estate after police stopped Mr Buhecha's car and discovered it loaded with fake DVDs.
Trading Standards Officers searched the Ford Escort and found the boot containing over 1,000 counterfeit DVDs and over 200 counterfeit inlay cards bearing the registered trade marks of BPI members Yash Raj Films and EROS International.
Despite being arrested and bailed, Mr Buhecha continued to trade as normal and on 30 January 2003 Buhecha was arrested for a second time when officers from Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Service caught him red-handed making a delivery of counterfeit goods to a dealer in north west London.
After officers found 500 counterfeit DVDs and further incriminating business documentation in his car, police raided his home and a lock-up unit in Cambridge where they seized over 18,000 counterfeit DVDs along with 27,500 counterfeit inlay cards.
The haul also included counterfeit security holograms, delivery notes and import documents. Computer equipment found in his home was examined and found to contain accounts, records and e-mails which proved that Buhecha was sourcing Bollywood movies from around the globe.
Avtar Panesar, from the UK independent label Yash Raj Films said: "It's a remarkable result, more so because it was a clear case of an honest man turning dishonest, and betraying the faith and trust of the company that had stood by him. Justice had to prevail. We need more such results."
BPI Anti-Piracy Director David Martin said: "Jayanti Buhecha was a major player in the counterfeit Bollywood music and film business, so we're pleased to report to our members that he's been put away. But the problem simply will not disappear with him. Others and more will take his place, so it's vital that keep up our efforts in this field."
For further information and photos, contact BPI communications manager Matt Phillips on 020 7803 1326.
The BPI is the UK's recorded music industry association. Although the UK piracy rate is less than 5%, industry estimates put the rate of piracy in the Asian music market at more than 40%.
Working with the Indian Music Industry, the BPI formed an alliance in 2000 to combat the enormous problems that Asian specialist British independent labels have with music and film piracy. The BPI has over 20 independent labels that specialise in Asian music and film.
To contact the Trading Standards Service for the London Boroughs of Brent and Harrow, call Simon Legg or Bill Bilon on 020 8937 5534/5522.