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Laurent Ponsot to testify against Kurniawan

Laurent Ponsot will join compatriots Aubert de Villaine of DRC and Christophe Roumier in testifying against Rudy Kurniawan.

Laurent Ponsot is set to join Domaine de la Romanee Conti co-owner Aubert de Villaine and Domaine Georges Roumier head winemaker Christophe Roumier to testify against alleged fraudster Rudy Kurniawan this autumn.

US government prosecutors have won their battle to have the elite French wine trio give testimony via video at the trial, which is due to begin in September, a court spokesperson has confirmed to Decanter.com.

The three winemakers cannot attend in person, because the trial coincides with harvest-time.

‘Messrs. Ponsot, Roumier, and de Villaine are the heads of their respective domaines with unique knowledge about the wines that the defendant is alleged to have counterfeited,’ argued the prosecution in a letter to district judge Richard Berman at the Southern District Court of New York, where the trial will take place.

‘Among other things, Mr Ponsot and Mr Roumier are expected to testify that certain bottles of wine allegedly consigned by the defendant that purported to be from Domaine Ponsot and Domaine Roumier are counterfeits because the wines in question were never made,’ the letter continued.

One example is Kurniawan’s alleged attempt to consign pre-1982 Clos St Denis from Ponsot, when, in fact, 1982 was the first Ponsot-made vintage of this wine. Similarly, Roumier is expected to show that a 1923 bottle of Domaine Roumier purportedly consigned by Kurniawan was fake, because that particular wine was not made until 1952.

Kurniawan’s indictment in May last year sent shockwaves through the fine wine world. Known as ‘Dr Conti’ for his in-depth knowledge of DRC, he is charged with selling counterfeit fine wine, as well as mail and wire fraud.

Late last year, US Justice Department lawyers successfully defended an initial raid on Kurniawan’s house, in which they claimed to find ‘bags of corks, bags of wine labels, wax used to seal corks, empty bottles, bottles without labels, and other counterfeiting tools’. Kurniawan’s lawyers had argued that officers entered his home illegally.

Written by Chris Mercer

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