May 12 (Bloomberg) -- The operator of a fake-wine factory should serve as long as 14 years in prison for selling purportedly rare vintages to unwitting collectors, including billionaire William Koch, U.S. prosecutors said.
Rudy Kurniawan, a dealer once “the biggest and most successful wine counterfeiter in the world” sold at least $20.7 million of purportedly rare French wines he created in his home kitchen, federal prosecutors in New York said today in a memo to the sentencing judge.
Kurniawan, who purchased luxury cars, a Beverly Hills mansion and fine art with the proceeds of his crimes, was convicted in December of two separate frauds, including one to defraud Fine Art Capital, a lender to individuals and art dealers, assistant U.S. attorneys Jason Hernandez and Joseph Facciponti wrote.
While Kurniawan claimed to sell some of the finest and rarest wines in the world, a Federal Bureau of Investigation search of his home after his 2012 arrest turned up thousands of labels for many of the most expensive wines in the world, such as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and Chateau Petrus, they wrote.
“Kurniawan’s counterfeiting activities caused tens of millions of dollars of harm and he intended to cause even more harm,” the prosecutors said. “If not for his arrest a little more than two years ago, he would almost certainly be still selling fake wines today.”
In addition to corks and foil wrappers to cover them, the FBI found wax used to seal the corks and the rubber stamps for specific vintage years, Hernandez said.
Prosecutors said that in 2008 Kurniawan consigned at least 84 bottles of counterfeit wine purporting to be from Domaine Ponsot in Burgundy, France, at an unidentified New York auction house. Koch testified that Kurniawan sold him about $2.2 million in counterfeit wine.
Kurniawan, who has been in custody since he was charged in 2012, has asked the court in his own filing to sentence him to the time he has been held.
In addition to serving 11 to 14 years, prosecutors said, he should forfeit $20.7 million and any remaining assets the U.S. can identify. Several of Kurniawan’s victims haven’t yet told the government how much fake wine they bought from him, prosecutors said.
Sentencing is set for May 29.
The case is U.S. v. Kurniawan, 12-cr-00376, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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