Investors fleeced by fine wine swindlers

During a two-month trial the court heard that Daniel Snelling, 38, seduced investors into ploughing thousands of pounds into Australian wine from Nouveau World Wines.

With his sister Dina Snelling, 35, and cousin Rebecca McDonald, 42, he promised to sell the wine at huge profits after three years in ‘premium’ storage.

They raked in £2.5m by pledging to produce thousands of bottles but pulled the plug on the scam before investors could retrieve their cash.

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Snelling then reinvested their gains in new venture Finbow Wines Ltd, selling cheap Italian wine at events such as the 2010 World Cup. They took an average of £5000 from investors, convincing some to buy 10,000 bottles at a time, but produced just a fraction of the bottles of wine they promised and failed to deliver the expected profits.

The Snellings were convicted of two charges of conspiracy to defraud by the jury of four men and eight women.

Daniel Snelling was also convicted of converting criminal property.

McDonald was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud.

French-speaking Simon Dempsey, 43, of Sidcup, southeast London, was cleared of conspiracy to defraud and converting criminal property.

The court heard that the Snellings pretended to have offices in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, but this was just a postal address for their actual base in Greenwich, southeast London.

Once potential investors had been snared with promises of 30 per cent profits and low risk, they were sent a glossy brochure pledging the wine would be stored in a premium temperature-controlled facility in Australia.

Between January 2007 and August 2009 Snelling’s firm promised to produce 39,000 bottles of fine wine but produced just a quarter of that.

McDonald was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud, but the jury of eight men and four women failed to reach a verdict on a second like charge and were discharged.

Prosecutor Julian Christopher said the Crown would not seek a retrial and asked for the charge to be left on the court file, which was agreed by Judge Michael Grieve QC.

McDonald will now face sentence, together with Daniel and Dina Snelling, on 9 September.