Kurniawan ‘broker’ arrested

Marc Lazar, owner of Domaine Wine Storage and an alleged handler of some of Rudy Kurniawan’s wines, has been arrested in Missouri.

marc-lazar-president-domaine-storageLazar (pictured) was arrested in St Louis last week on two counts of selling wine without a licence. He posted a $25,000 bail last Thursday.

According to anti-fraud lawyer Don Cornwell writing on Wine Berserkers, the offices of his business were searched and a number of items of evidence were seized. It is possible further charges may be brought.

As Lazar is a convicted sex offender – he was charged with statutory rape and statutory sodomy of a minor in 2005 – he was prohibited from ever holding a licence to sell liquor in the state of Missouri.

However, since 2010 “at least”, according to Cornwell, two of Lazar’s Missouri-based businesses, Domaine Storage and Cellar Advisors, have “regularly” sold wine to clients with one email dated 4 August 2015 stating: “Today we are very excited to bring you an offer of great wines priced below recent auction or retail. These bottles are all in perfect condition at our St. Louis warehouse.” (Cornwell’s bold and underline)

This March, Lazar was called as a witness at the trial of Great Northern Insurance Company v. Cellar Advisors. During the trial as the transcript shows, Lazar admitted that in a year Cellar Advisors transacted, “about $10 million worth of wine for our clients.”

He then stated just a little later that: “Cellar Advisors consulting business has only one location, we operate that business out of St Louis and our entire staff is there with one remote employee who works from home in New York.”

The St Louis circuit attorney said in a statement: “The defendant routinely emails offers to sell wine to Missouri residents. Neither the defendant nor any of his entities, subsidiaries, or subordinates are licensed to sell intoxicating liquor in the state of Missouri.”

The next hearing is scheduled for 28 November.

As Cornwell continued: “The two felony charges filed thus far would appear to be only the beginning of the potential charges that could be filed here.

“For example, one of the consequences of selling liquor without a license in the State of Missouri is that the Lazar entities do not charge Missouri sales tax. The failure to collect and remit Missouri sales tax is chargeable as either a misdemeanour or felony.

“I anticipate that there will likely be additional criminal charges filed against Mr. Lazar in the weeks to come and I suspect that many of Mr. Lazar’s employees will find themselves under serious scrutiny from law enforcement agencies involved.”

It has been alleged further that Lazar acted as an agent and broker for Rudy Kurniawan and knowingly consigned fake wines made by the now convicted fraudster to various auction houses during 2010 and 2011.

Although not charged directly in connection with Kurniawan’s trial, Lazar was named alongside Richard Brierly and Xavier Nebout in a lawsuit filed by a Singapore-based law firm earlier this year for complicity in selling fake Domaine de la Romanée-Conti supplied by Kurniawan.

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