Billionaire Continues Crusade Against Fraudulent Wine Dealers
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A federal trial continued Friday for a man accused of selling millions of dollars worth of counterfeit wine.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, billionaire Bill Koch is carrying on his crusade against the frauds in the wine business and testified against Rudy Kurniawan, 37.
Koch’s fine wine collection is made up of 43,000 bottles. He uses the wine labels to paper his bathroom walls, Cornell reported.
Koch told the jury that he personally spent more than $3 million purchasing supposedly rare vintage Burgundy and Bordeaux wines from Kurniawan and all were fake.
“He’s a clever counterfeiter,” said Koch. “But he made some stupid mistakes. For example, he sold a rare French wine supposedly from 1928, which was six years before that particular wine was ever bottled.”
But, Cornell reported, Koch hasn’t lost his humor about it. He joked that at least Kurniawan went through the trouble of blending the cheap wines he was peddling as rare vintages in his home wine factory.
Koch has so far spent $25 million of his own money to shine a light on frauds in the business.
On the stand Friday, Koch told the jury that Kurniawan is one of two major fakers in the western world.
Kurniawan’s fraud trial began on Monday and is expected to last several weeks.
He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Bill Koch is the founder of the Oxbow Group energy company and the brother of businessmen and conservative political moguls Charles and David Koch.
Earlier this year, he sued Eric Greenberg for selling him 24 allegedly fake bottles of wine purported to be as old as 1865 that he says he bought at a 2005 auction. He claims Greenberg cheated him of more than $320,000 by selling him the fraudulent wine.
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