Close Menu

Wine conman forced to pay back debt

Wine fraudster Denis Lefrancq has been ask to pay back just £30,000 of the £380,000 he amassed during a five day wine scam in 2010.

Denis Lefrancq

The Korean-born Belgian national living in Leeds was jailed for two years and four months by Leeds Crown Court last October for conspiracy to defraud.

Lefrancq, 36, was ordered to pay £30,000 over six months – under a tenth of the £380,000 he cheated his victims out of, who are demanding to know why he has been asked to pay only a fraction of his debts.

Paul Brooke, who bought six cases of wine for £549, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Is that all? It’s ridiculous. It’s disgusting actually.”

Roger Burgess, who also placed an order with, said: “If there is some way of tracing those people who lost physical amounts of cash that should be the bare minimum that’s taken back, and it should not go to the state but to those customers.”

Running fine dining restaurant 3 York Place in Leeds at the time of the crime, Lefrancq set up wine website, which claimed it was selling wine from restaurants forced to close during the recession.

One of the wines Lefrancq tried to fraudulently sell: Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1995

Lefrancq placed adverts in local and national newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, promising “fine wines and Champagnes at less than trade prices.”

Offers included a case of Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1995 for £700, down from £1,170, and a case of Château Lamartre St Emilion Grand Cru 2005 for £780 rather than £1,740.

The adverts lead to hundreds of orders – Lefrancq amassed £380,000 in just five days, but deliveries were never made. Once funds had cleared, Lefrancq shut 3 York Place and fled to Europe.

He splashed out £39,000 for a Mercedes before boarding a plane to Belgium.

He was arrested in Prague in December 2010 and brought back to the UK. Admitting conspiracy to defraud, Lefrancq was jailed last October for two years and four months.

Last week, the drinks business reported that New Zealand wine merchant Simon Mickleson was sentenced to two years and four months in prison by Auckland District Court after scamming clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No