Hanna Agostini, who translates Robert Parker's wine guides into French, has been questioned by police in Bordeaux as part of an investigation into fraudulent accounting.
Mrs Agostini, 37, gave up her legal career in Bordeaux in 2001 to become a full-time wine consultant and wine-guide translator.
Parker – the world’s most influential wine critic, whose quarterly journal The Wine Advocate and 100-point wine-scoring system can make and break reputations – is himself a former lawyer.
Agostini was questioned in connection with consultancy work she did for the Dutch-Belgian Geens wine group between 1999 and 2001. It is alleged she invoiced Geens using The Wine Advocate’s headed notepaper.
Her work, for which she is believed to have charged more than €100,000 (US$107,523), included putting Geens in touch with two leading winemakers who consult for the Geens group.
If the allegation is founded, Agostini could face charges of forgery, use of forged documents and concealment of a breach of trust.
Agostini’s own lawyer has refused to comment. Her husband Eric Agostini, himself a leading Bordeaux wine lawyer, insists his wife has done nothing wrong. She has always invoiced using her own company name Wines and Feathers, he said.
In a statement to the press, Robert Parker describes Agostini as ‘an independent contractor’.
‘For the past five years, she has translated the six editions of The Wine Advocate published each year from English into French. She is not an employee of The Wine Advocate,’ he said.
Agostini also has a contract with the Paris-based publishing firm Solar to translate books written by Robert Parker from English into French.
Written by Liz Hughes