Fraudsters made £2.5m from ‘fine wine scam’
Wealthy investors who thought they were buying fine and rare wines were victims of a ‘perfect’ £2.5million scam, a court was told.
Investors thought they were buying fine and rare wines The wine did not exist and the money taken from customers was spent on ‘high living: foreign holidays, jewellery, fast cars and the like’, it was claimed.
The fraudsters set up three bogus companies, Bordeaux Wine Trading Company, International Wine Commodities and Templar Vintners, which had only one case of fine wine between them over three years,’ St Alband crown court, in Hertfordshire, heard.
‘The sales pitch to potential investors involved hard selling over the phone promising Premier Cru wine sold “en primeur”,’ prosecutor Ann Evans said.
This means that the wine is purchased whilst still in the barrel at the vineyard, the jury heard. It is then bottled and shipped to Britain where it is kept in bonded warehouses and does not attract VAT or capital gains tax.
‘It is not released to the client immediately, the client is simply issued with a Certificate of Purchase and so no suspicions are aroused in the first instance. It is a perfect vehicle for a scam,’ she added.
‘The beauty of this scam was that the investors were not expecting to see the goods they had purchased for some considerable time – years even.’
One investor alone parted with £100,000.
Five men Niklaus Cashman, 31, 37-year-old Paul Craven, Oseghale Hayble, 32, Benedict Moruthoane, 38 and 36-yearold Andrew Griffith, all from London, are charged with fraud. Anita Linskill, 27, from Bournemouth, is accused of transferring criminal property.
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