A staffer at a Chinese finance company named Goldman Sachs said any similarity to the multi-billion-dollar U.S. investment giant was unintentional Thursday, weeks after a Chinese man was arrested for setting up a fake bank branch.
Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Co., operating in the southern boomtown next to Hong Kong, has an almost identical name to New York-based financial institution, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
"We don't have any connection with the U.S. Goldman Sachs," a woman who answered the company's listed phone number told Agence France-Presse (AFP). "We just picked the name out, and it's not intentionally the same," she added, before hanging up.
The company uses the same Chinese characters as Goldman Sachs officially does in the country, the world's second-largest economy. Shenzhen's Goldman Sachs was exposed by a letter sent by a U.S. casino workers union to Chinese anti-corruption officials asking them to investigate the firm, Bloomberg News reported.
The Chinese firm's English font is evocative of the U.S. bank's, Bloomberg reported, labeling the company a "pirate" version of Goldman Sachs. The news came after a 39-year-old man in eastern China was arrested earlier this month for setting up a fake branch of China Construction Bank, including card readers, teller counters and signs, according to state-run media. Duped "customers" were able to hand over money to make supposed deposits into their accounts but were refused withdrawals, reports said.
Enforcement of intellectual property laws in China is regarded as lax, with several foreign firms previously embroiled in court cases over imitators.
Basketball star Michael Jordan last month lost a case against a Chinese sportswear company that used the Chinese version of his name. Apple Inc. paid $60 million to settle a trademark dispute with a Chinese company that had applied to block the sale of iPad tablets in 2012. A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs denied any ties with the Shenzhen company to Bloomberg and said it was "looking into the matter."