Daniel Snelling, a wine investment fraudster who used stolen millions to fund his lavish lifestyle, has been imprisoned for seven-and-a-half years.
Snelling, 38, the instigator and prime mover behind the Nouveau World Wines and Finbow Wines Ltd frauds, was sentenced atÂ Southwark Crown Court.
On July 16th, Snelling was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of money laundering.
Snelling is also banned from serving as a UK company director for 15 years and was given a five-year serious crime prevention order, which will come into force when he leaves prison.
His cousin, 43-year-oldÂ Rebecca McDonald, was given three years in prison for her conviction for conspiracy to defraud in relation toÂ Finbow. McDonald acted as book-keeper at the company.
She was found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud in relation toÂ Nouveau World Wines.
Investors, many of them elderly and vulnerable, lost a total of Â£4.5m in the combined frauds, which were described as â€˜sophisticatedâ€™ byÂ His Honour Judge Grieve QC.
He said that Snelling used the proceeds to â€˜fund an extravagant life style; renting smart flats in [Londonâ€™s] Docklands, driving prestige cars, frequent travel and receiving large cash payments from the company bank accountâ€™.
In contrast, Judge Grieve said, McDonald received no other material benefits from the fraud apart from her â€˜relatively modest salaryâ€™ (Â£30,000).
Nouveau World Wines was set up in summer 2007. It offered investments in Australian wine and took just over Â£2.5 million from investors, very few of whom ever saw their wine, and the firm went into liquidation in July 2010.
Finbow Wines LtdÂ proposed buying cheap Italian wine and shipping it to China, Hong Kong and also South Africa to make a quick profit. In six months up to March 2010, it took Â£2m from investors but bought just Â£24,000-worth of wine. All of the investors lost their money.
Dina Snelling, younger sister of Daniel Snelling and who was convicted for conspiracy to defraud in relation to both Nouveau and Finbow, will be sentenced on October 11th. She is suffering from depression.
Kelly Humphreys, Daniel Snellingâ€™s girlfriend, andÂ William (Billy) Davies, 39, are also charged with conspiracy to defraud over Finbow. Their trial at Southwark Crown Court will start on June 2nd 2014.
Written by Jim Budd