wine 

Wine investment scammer ordered to pay back just £22K

Wine investment scammer ordered to pay back just £22K

A solicitor who laundered £100,000 from a fine wine scam on investors through Jamaican bank accounts has been ordered to pay back less than a quarter of the sum.

Michael Wilson, 46, 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.

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 lower-quality bottles when they complained.

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

Wilson - the sole signatory to the company bank account - blamed his team of salesman and claimed he was negligent rather than dishonest.

The account for GWI revealed £631,261 in credits between July 2011 and September 2012 but only £64,016 was spent on wine and £100,000 on business costs.

Another £21,089 went on 'lifestyle payments', £93,000 was withdrawn in cash and £150,000 was paid to individuals including Wilson and his staff.

Wilson was convicted of possession of £100,000 in criminal property and jailed for three years in June 2016.

After his conviction, he claimed a lot of the cash was spent on his father's medical bills in Jamaica.

Wilson has now been ordered to pay back £22,131.00 within three months or serve another 12 months in jail.

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.

Philip Tomkinson, who invested £42,500 but only received one case of wine worth £8,500, was so disgruntled he obtained a court winding up order.

Wilson, who was the sole signatory on the bank account and a director of GWI, blamed his team for failing to source the high-value wines promised.

He accepted it was his fault for not supervising them properly and said he was ashamed at how badly he had managed his company.

Wilson told jurors: "It wasn't intentional. It wasn't dishonest."

The bank account for GWI revealed £631,261 in credits between July 2011 and September 2012 but only £64,016 was spent on wine and £100,000 on business costs.

Another £21,089 went on "lifestyle payments", £93,000 was withdrawn in cash and £150,000 was paid to individuals including Wilson and his staff.

Wilson had told the court: "I accept I was negligent. I accept I should have had more control over what the team was doing.