France - US

Wine fraudster sentenced to 10 years in prison

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The Indonesian wine forger Rudy Rurniawan was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday for having made counterfeit wines, including French vintages.


According to the BBC, Rudy Rurniawan will also pay a 20 million-dollar fine, and repay his victims more than 28 million dollars for his swindle.

37-year-old Rudy Rurniawan sold thousands of supposedly expensive and rare bottles of wine to wealthy oenophiles in the United States. His sales totalled more than 20 million dollars.

“It was a serious economic fraud, a manipulation of both US and international markets,” the New York judge Richard Berman said.

“I am sorry for what I’ve done,” Rurniawan told the judge. His lawyer said they would certainly appeal the verdict.

For many years Rurniawan made forged wines at his house in Arcadia, California, where he had a laboratory to fake vintages. Thousands of full bottles and fake Burgundy and Bordeaux labels were found at his home.

The Wall Street Journal explains that he mixed and blended lower-priced wines and mimicked the colour and taste of expensive vintages. He then poured this into empty bottles pasted with fake labels he made.

Before he was caught, Rurniawan was recognized as one of the five top wine experts in the world. He acquired this reputation as a result of his remarkable capacity to identify and memorize wines.

Rurniawan is the first person in the United States to be sentenced to jail for making and selling counterfeit wines.

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