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Accused Wine Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan Goes on Trial

December 9, 2013

Wine Spectator reports that 20 months after his arrest by the FBI, accused wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan will finally go on trial today, in a Lower Manhattan federal court room. For federal prosecutors, the case marks a first: Never before has the U.S. government tried a defendant for counterfeiting wine. Kurniawan, 37, an Indonesian citizen of Chinese ethnicity, is also charged with defrauding a finance company. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, as well as potential fines.

Prosecutors will attempt to prove that Kurniawan made millions of dollars selling counterfeit wines during at least four New York auctions from 2005 to 2008, and tried to sell counterfeits through a straw man at a London auction in early 2012. Kurniawan also allegedly sold counterfeits directly to collectors, many of them people he had shared wines with at auctions and lavish dinners. Three of Burgundy’s most famous names—Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Christophe Roumier of Domaine Georges Roumier and Laurent Ponsot of Domaine Ponsot—will testify on the inauthenticity of the wines and also on the damage Kurniawan’s work has inflicted. To read the full story in Wine Spectator, click here.

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