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Wine investors ‘defrauded of £2.5m’

The trial of six people involved in three allegedly fraudulent wine investment companies started in St Albans Crown Court this week.

Bordeaux 2005: fraudsters allegedly sold £2.5m of non-existent wine

Investors were cold-called and persuaded to invest in Bordeaux en primeur mainly 2005 First Growths.

The three companies involved are Bordeaux Wine Trading Company, International Wine Commodities Ltd and Templar Vintners Ltd.

Although the victims paid a total of £2.5m, it is alleged that the fraudulent companies only ever had one £10,350 case of wine in stock. No other orders were placed with suppliers.

Instead the defendants spent the money on luxury goods, including cars and designer watches.

The court heard today of a spending spree by 37-year old Paul Craven, who ran the Bordeaux Wine Trading Company.

In October 2006 he bought BMW convertible for £20,600. In November he spent over £16,000 on various items in Selfridges including Ozwald Boateng clothes and Cartier watches. In January 2007 Craven bought an electric wine cooler (£1225) as well as a Jacuzzi bath and bathroom TV.

In October 2007 Craven bought a black RR sport Land Rover for £55,700.

The next month he bought a black BMW sports convertible for his girlfriend, paying £32,162 on the spot by debit card.

There are a number of charges. Niklas Cashman, Paul Craven, Oseghale Hayble and Benedict Moruthoane are charged with conspiracy to defraud.

Benedict Moruthoane and Andrew Griffiths are charged with fraud and Anita Lanskill with transferring criminal property. Although the case is linked, it is believed that none of the defendants was involved in all three companies.

The trial continues and is expected to last four to five weeks

Update: 3rd November 2010:

Please note that Andrew Griffiths has now been severed (official parlance) from this case with a new trial date to be set in due course. In plain language he is now no longer on trial in this case being heard at St Albans Crown Court.

Written by Jim Budd

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