British Man Accused of Creating Ponzi Scheme That Targeted Wine Collectors Pleads Not Guilty

In a New York court on Saturday, British national Stephen Burton, 58, pleaded not guilty to charges of orchestrating a fraudulent scheme that allegedly defrauded investors of nearly $100 million. 

Burton, extradited from Morocco where he was arrested in 2022 with a fake Zimbabwean passport, faces accusations of running Bordeaux Cellars, a company that purportedly facilitated loans between investors and affluent wine collectors. 

Federal prosecutors assert that Burton and his co-defendant, James Wellesley, solicited $99 million from investors between June 2017 and February 2019, promising profits through interest payments secured by non-existent luxury wines.

The indictment, filed in 2022, led to Burton’s detention pending trial. Prosecutors claim that the duo approached investors at various venues, including conferences in the US and abroad, falsely representing loans backed by stored wines for wealthy collectors. Investigations revealed that these collectors did not exist, and Bordeaux Cellars did not possess the wine supposedly securing the loans. 

Wellesley, also a British citizen, awaits extradition in the United Kingdom. 

If convicted, Burton and Wellesley could each face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. 

Information for this story was found via DOJ, Reuters, the New York Times, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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