A director and another man involved with wine merchant Templar Vintners have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud.
Benedict Moruthoane and Andrew Griffiths were arrested by Hertford police at the London offices of Templar Vintners last Thursday 4 February.
They were later charged at Hatfield Magistrates Court with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering, and were remanded in custody.
Templar Vintners Ltd, whose website claims it is ‘the leading merchant of fine and rare wines’, started trading in the second half of 2009.
In January 2010 the Guernsey Financial Services Commission issued a warning against Templar Vintners over a false claim that it was authorised by GFSC to run a wine fund.
Griffiths is the sole director of the company. Another officer, company secretary James Allie, is the Liberal Democrat councillor for the London borough of Brent.
Allie does not list his appointment as company secretary of Templar Vintners on the Brent Council register of members’ financial interests.
He told decanter.com, ‘I haven’t been contacted by the police about this matter.’
Moruthoane is also a director of Boss Vintners, based in Johannesburg and founded in 2004. Initially called Voodoo Diamonds, the company name was changed in August 2005. Boss Vintners claims to ‘the world’s leading fine wine merchants’.
On its website Boss Vintners claims to have won two Decanter awards, ‘Bordeaux Specialist UK Wine Merchant of the Year’ and ‘Fine Wine Specialist UK Wine Merchant of the Year’. Neither award exists.
In June 2009 Moruthoane was charged with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering in relation to International Wine Commodities Ltd, where he was a director. The case is due to heard at St Albans Crown Court on 7 June.
Written by Jim Budd