Alleged million-pound wine fraudster in court
A man who was banned from running a company in the UK has swindled £1 million out of investors in a fraudulent fine wine scheme to pay for luxury holidays, a London court has heard.
Spyros Constantinos, 44, conned investors out of thousands of pounds at a time by promising vast returns on cases of fine wine. He instead used the money to instead pay for expensive holidays and shopping sprees.
He used the ill-gotten cash to pay for a £10,000 trip to San Francisco, and regularly shopped in some of London’s most expensive department stores, such as Harrods and Selfridges, according to prosecutors.
The court heard that one of Constantinos clients was pampered with a trip to Spain in order to part him with £250,000. Another spent £500,000 on the dodgy scheme.
The Daily Mail reports that there were 24 victims who paid out a sum in excess of £1m in total, with very little in return.
Constantinos, who is appearing at the Old Bailey in London accused of several counts of fraud, is no stranger to dubious wine investment schemes.
He was banned from running a company for nine years in 2008 after he was found guilty of similar fraudulent activity when he ran the now infamous Bordeaux Wine Consultancy Ltd, leaving his clients out of pocket to the tune of £450,000.
Accusers say that Constantinos spent five years working around this ban, setting up a bank account in Spain to continue his illicit practices in the UK.
He was arrested in February 2013, but continued to receive investments until July that year, prosecutors said.
Pauline Thompson, leading the prosecution, said the fine wine investment industry is far too fertile a hunting ground for conmen, with it being virtually unregulated and clients not expecting returns on their wines for years.
The trial continues.