Kurniawan stands trial in counterfeit wine case

Vintage wine bottleThe much-anticipated trial of an international wine dealer accused of running a counterfeit laboratory began in New York this week.

Rudy Kurniawan appeared in the New York court on Monday accused of mixing ordinary Californian wines to taste like rare vintages and pouring the resulting concoction into old bottles featuring fake labels. The man was arrested by the FBI after trying to sell $736,500 worth of allegedly fake wine at a London auction.

"This is a case about greed," prosecutor Jason Hernandez said. The prosecution is portraying Kurniawan as a greedy individual who tricked buyers to fund his lavish lifestyle, Decanter reports, but the defence has a different take on the situation, arguing he is the fall guy for an endemic problem in high-end wine.

Defence attorney Jerome Mooney said: "If you're buying a lot of wine, you're going to buy a lot of counterfeits. He bought counterfeits. He sold counterfeits. Everybody else bought and sold counterfeits."

Kurniawan denies one count of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to sell counterfeit wine. The trial continues.

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