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Alibaba hires ex-Apple investigator to fight fakes

Alibaba has hired a former counterfeit investigator for Apple to lead its charge to wipe out fake goods from its e-commerce platforms amid ongoing criticism from regulators.

The Chinese online retail giant appointed Matthew Bassiur as its head of global intellectual property enforcement, effective January 2016, on Monday.

Bassiur will lead a team that works with international brands and retail partners, regulators, law enforcement and other organizations to help Alibaba's anti-counterfeiting and intellectual property rights protection efforts.

Inside Alibaba Group Holdings headquarters.
Jeff Pohlman | CNBC
Inside Alibaba Group Holdings headquarters.

"We will continue to be relentless in our long-term commitment to protect both consumers and intellectual property rights owners, and we call on all companies in our industry to join our fight against bad actors," Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba, said in a press release.

The appointment comes after the Chinese e-commerce firm avoided being put on a U.S. blacklist for sites selling fake goods. Still, the U.S. Trade Representative said it was "increasingly concerned" about Alibaba's measures to tackle counterfeit products and that more needed to be done.

The appointment is of particular importance as Alibaba looks to expand into international markets and gain more revenue from beyond its home market.

Alibaba has been trying to put in measures to fight the counterfeits on its shopping sites to help its international expansion. Earlier this year TaoProtect – its intellectual property reporting system – was released in English to make it easier for Western retailers to report knock-off goods to Alibaba.

The New York-listed company also has an army of volunteers, as well as around 2,000 employees dedicated to finding fake goods. Earlier this year, the Chinese e-commerce giant hired around 300 people to form a specialized unit to tackle counterfeit products.

Bassiur joins from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer where he oversaw the company's anti-counterfeiting operations. Before that, he was at Apple, where he oversaw an investigative program into complex thefts, frauds, leaks and cyber-related crimes.