Whisky investment fraudster Stephen Jupe has been found guilty on three counts of fraudulent trading at Southwark Crown Court at the end of a two-and-half month trial.

Jupe sold casks of an unknown and untried whisky, from Speyside Distillery, at three times the purchase price, claiming investors could make a return of 18% per annum. His company, Marshall Wineries, turned over £3.8m until it went bankrupt in late November 1996 selling virtually unsaleable whisky at three times the cost price.

He took some £450,000 out of the company to fund a luxurious house conversion. Marshall Wineries also spent nearly £250,000 on advertising during 1996. Jupe, an evangelical Christian, also donated £45,000 of the company’s to UKET, an evangelical Christian organisation.

In his evidence Jupe claimed to have seen an advert in Decanter in the early 1990s in which high-class London wine merchant La Reserve offered casks of well-known malt whisky Glenfarclas.

He said that was why he had ignored a warning in July 1993 from John Grant of Glenfarclas, who declined to supply new-fill casks to Marshall Wineries as he foresaw problems with whisky investment.

But the prosecution proved, with a complete set of back issues of Decanter from 1993, that no such advert had appeared.

The fraud was first exposed by Decanter columnist Andrew Jefford in an article in the London Evening Standard in November 1995.

During the trial Jupe claimed Jefford and Mark Reynier of La Reserve were part of a conspiracy, involving the Department of Trade and Industry and the Serious Fraud Office, to destroy Marshall Wineries.

Jupe was found guilty on 23 April. He will be sentenced on 21 May.

  • [Update] Stephen Jupe has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraudulent trading. Passing sentence, the judge commented that Jupe had claimed in his defence that his investors were sophisticated and wealthy individuals, whereas in fact they were very often pensioners who lost large proportions of their savings.

    ‘This sends a clear signal that courts are going to come down heavily on white collar criminals,’ campaigning website investdrinks.org commented.

    Written by Jim Budd