Three Leon Cycles stores in Australia will soon revert back to their original branding, Hi5 E-Bikes.
Their owner, Jamal Raad, said he is just waiting for the signage to arrive to convert his stores in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.
The switch follows the arrest of the China-based owner of Leon Cycles, Lijun Ding, who was detained and charged last month by customs officers in France for allegedly evading the European Union’s Trade Defence Instruments.
He is accused of fraud estimated at €26 million (A$43 million) by evading e-bike anti-dumping duties.
However, Jamal said he had made the decision to switch back to Hi5 prior to Lijun’s arrest.
He had established his stores as Hi5 in 2020, exclusively stocking Leon e-bikes.
He said his high sales numbers prompted an approach from Leon Cycles to become an exclusive franchise of the brand.
However, Jamal made the decision earlier this year he would be better positioned as an independent store, while continuing to stock Leon e-bikes.
“I have a reputation as a Leon bikes store and I’m in discussions with Leon about how that will continue to happen,” he said.
“However, I’m also starting to sell other brands.”
Hi5 will start stocking e-Mono bikes and in June signed a partnership with Gold Coast company Trike Bike Australia to become its exclusive representative in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
According to French media reports on Lijun’s arrest, customs authorities reportedly found goods imported by Leon Cycle that were declared as coming from South Korea rather than China, to incur lower anti-dumping and anti-circumvention duties.
According to French media platform Le Parisien, the bikes were also allegedly delivered in kit form and declared as parts, which attract a lower VAT (Value Added Tax) rate.
Authorities claim Lijun has been evading the anti-dumping and anti-circumvention duties since 2018.
Leon Cycles has its head office in the German city of Hanover and is part of Leisger Holdings Ltd, which owns the e-bike brands NCM, Elewave and ET.Cycle.
Lijun’s company owns a Leon Cycles warehouse in premises in Perth and there is no news on its future, following his arrest.
Leon Cycles also operates in the French, German, Italian, Spanish and US markets.
Leon Cycle Europe issued a statement on 28th July announcing Lijun Ding’s release from custody and rejecting the allegation made against the businessman.
It says Lijun was released on 10th July following a five-week investigation by EU customs officials, and Leon Cycle Europe has resumed its business operations and sales.
In the statement, Leon claims the arrest relates to a dispute and meeting it had with a French parts supplier allegedly under investigation by French customs authorities.
“The company adheres to all regulatory requirements and denies any allegations of money laundering,” it says.
“We wish to reiterate that Leon Cycle Europe has not imported any electric bicycles produced in mainland China since July 2018. The company remains committed to transparent and lawful practices, ensuring the highest standards of compliance. As this situation develops, Leon Cycle Europe will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities and provide timely updates on the progress of the case.”