French experts will give video testimony in fake wine trial

Vintage wine bottleThree French wine experts will provide testimony by video in the much-anticipated trial later this year involving Rudy Kurniawan, who is accused of counterfeiting premium wines.

The three experts - Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Laurent Ponsot of Domaine Ponsot and Christophe Roumier of Domaine Georges Roumier - asked to provide evidence by video because the timing of the trial conflicts with the grape harvest.

Indonesia-born Kurniawan was arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) just over a year ago after a raid on his home in Los Angeles revealed a locked room which - according to the agency - housed a wine counterfeiting workshop.

Prosecutors allege that between 2007 and 2012, Kurniawan engaged in multiple fraudulent schemes relating to his wine business, including attempting to sell counterfeit wine that, if genuine, would have been worth over $1.3m. He is also charged with fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in loans.

The tally of alleged offences includes an attempt to sell a bottle of wine purporting to be a 1929 Domaine Ponsot - even though the winemaker did not begin estate bottling until 1934 - along with 83 other bottles whose provenance has also been called into question. All told the bottles were expected to raise around $600,000.

A number of high-profile collectors of wines are claimed to have bought counterfeit wines from Kurniawan, including billionaire Bill Koch who recently won $12m in a civil lawsuit against California wine seller Eric Greenberg. Koch filed a lawsuit against Kurniawan in 2009, which is pending until the completion of the criminal trial.

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