Bordeaux producer sentenced to prison for wine fraud
Vincent Lataste, the boss of Bordeaux wine company Sequoia, has been handed an “unprecedented” prison sentence for fraud, after authorities found that his company “attempted deception on the substantial qualities of wines,” among other offences.
Vincent Lataste’s sentence constitutes the first of its kind for a prominent figure in the Bordeaux wine industry.
Lataste’s company, Sequoia (which has been renamed Awesome), was accused and convicted of “deception, attempted deception on the substantial qualities of wines, fraudulent use and attempted fraudulent use of PDO”, according to Le Monde.
The case began when inspectors from the regulatory body Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité carried out a routine check on Sequoia.
The results of that inspection showed that sulphur dioxide levels were above authorised limits. After this finding, further tests were carried out and authorities reportedly found evidence of further fraud, including wines from different producers being mixed, water being added to wine and wine labels displaying the incorrect years.
Mr Lataste has appealed the sentence, which will now be postponed until the outcome of that appeal is heard. Regardless, it is unlikely that he will serve prison time even if he loses the appeal. French law dictates that sentences of a year or less can be served at home as long as individuals wear an electronic bracelet, The Connexxion reports.
The basis of Mr Lataste’s appeal is twofold; over the legality of the investigation, which his lawyer says infringed the rights of the defence, and on the accuracy of the facts of the case and the claim that Mr Lataste intended to defraud his customers.