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Wine investment company boss jailed

Wine investment company director Benedict Moruthoane has been jailed for 7.5 years for fraud.

Moruthoane, who set up and ran Templar Vintners Ltd, was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on 5 January after a two-month trial.

The fraud related to two wine investment companies: Templar Vintners Ltd and International Wine Commodities Ltd. Moruthoane was a director of IWC, but not a director of Templar Vintners.

Despite taking nearly £200,000 from investors neither company bought any wine to back investments.

IWC took some £800,000 from investors and Templar Vintners £100,000.

Hertfordshire police raided and closed the offices of IWC in October 2008, and closed Templar Vintners down in January 2010 soon after it started operation.

Moruthoane was found guilty by jury before Christmas. The case followed an investigation by the Economic Unit of the Hertfordshire Police.

In January 2010 Guernsey Financial Services Commission issued a public warning against Templar Vintners for falsely claiming on its website that it was authorised by the Commission.

James Allie, a Brent councillor and the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for North Brent at the last general election, was company secretary for Templar Vintners.

A client of Templar Vintners, who had paid for two cases – Chateau Lafite 2008 and Chateau Ausone 2008 – received an email purporting to come from Allie but it is likely that it was sent by Moruthoane, the court heard.

There was no evidence that Allie was involved with the day-to-day management of Templar Vintners, and no charges were brought.

Written by Jim Budd

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