Investments  

Wine investment scammer jailed for three years

Wine investment scammer jailed for three years

A solicitor who laundered £100,000 from a fine wine investment scam through Jamaican bank accounts has been jailed for three years.

Michael Wilson, 44, set up Global Wine Investments Ltd at plush offices in the City of London to attract orders for cases of high-value plonk.

The company raked in £360,716 from investors but spent only £60,000 of its income on wine.

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The rest of the cash was frittered away on wages, bonuses, luxuries and business costs.

Many of the victims never saw any wine at all and others were fobbed off with lesser-quality bottles when they complained.

Some were told they didn’t even have an account when they called to check on their investment.

Wilson was convicted of possession of £100,000 in criminal property but the jury failed to reach a verdict on the fraud charge.

The prosecution decided not to go for a retrial.

After his conviction, he said that a lot of the cash had been spent on his father’s medical bills in Jamaica.

Judge Nicolas Cooke QC said of the claim: “I find him consistently dishonest - if you’re going to tell lies you need a good memory and need to apply your mind to it.”

Wilson and his family have paid back £46,000 since the trial and are making arrangements to pay back the remaining £54,000.

Jailing him for three years, Judge Nicolas Cooke QC said: “You were responsible for a very considerable amount of loss to persons who in some cases could not afford to lose the money they lost - that’s a serious matter.

“The jury found that the money you directed away was so that the persons who put it into the business would not have seen it again.

“I regret the damage that this is going to cause to members of your family - families always suffer when a person goes wrong as you have gone wrong.

“However I have to deter people from committing offences.”

Wilson was barred from holding a post as a company director for seven years.

The Old Bailey heard Global Wine Investments operated from fancy offices at 70 St Mary Axe in the City of London between April 2011 and September 2012.

One of the victims, David Scholey, said he contacted the firm in October 2011 after seeing a newspaper advert.

He decided to invest £19,600 on two cases of Chateau Lafite 2008 and another £17,000 the following month.

He became suspicious after asking to sell the original two cases and the London City Bond confirmed that they held no account in his name.

After repeatedly complaining, GWI ordered cases of a different wine worth only £25,245 - resulting in a loss of £11,355.

Other victims never received any wine at all despite investing thousands of pounds.