Thursday, 25 June 2015
Wine investment fraudster Spyros Constantinos guilty on all 10 Charges
Serial fraudster Spyros faces jail
43-year old Spyros Constantinos has been found guilty at the Old Bailey (London) of defrauding clients who were persuaded to invest in wine by this smooth tongued salesman. Constantinos faced ten counts that included running a fraudulent business, intent to defraud and acting as a company director while disqualified.
The guilty verdicts on all ten counts come at the end of a three-week trial. The case was bought by Tower Hamlets Trading Standards.
Their barrister Pauline Thompson QC told the court that Constantinos had stolen £1 million from investors. Instead of buying wine he spent the money on holidays including a trip to New York and other luxuries.
One of Constantinos's ploys was to offer a guaranteed return on wine after a year. The rate of return varied from 8.9% to an astonishing 50%
The jury heard a sad litany from investors who bought wine and were fobbed off with endless unfulfilled promises of cheques in the post. Frustrated investors got repeated promises of cheques at the end of the month, while receiving further wine investment offers. Instead getting their money it was moved into accounts for Constantinos’ personal use.
Michael Phelps, md of EHD bonded warehouse, where Constantinos stored what wine he did buy, told the court that he had never seen documents supposedly from EHD that were sent to investors. This included one that guaranteed that wine was in EHD’s care.
Following the collapse the Bordeaux Wine Consultants Ltd, Constantinos’ first wine investment company, he was banned from being a UK company director from 2008 to 2017. However, he acted as company director for the Premier Bordeaux Wine Company and Classic Bordeaux Wines, which was based in Marbella.
Underlining his intent to defraud and common to other fraudsters and those involved in telesales scams, Constantinos used a series of false names when dealing with his clients or potential clients. False names used by Constantinos included Andrew Miles and Stephen Williams. (NB: Stephen Williams was an alias that Constantinos chose. There was no connection whatever with Stephen Williams of the long established Antique Wine Company as this post on investdrinks in March 2013 makes absolutely clear: http://investdrinks-blog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/stephen-williams-antique-wine-company.html)
Sentencing is to follow in some 28 days. I hope Constantinos will get a considerable prison sentence, especially as he continued to run his fraudulent schemes despite being banned as a director and having given undertakings at the time of his ban.
Congratulations to Tower Hamlets Trading Standards for bringing this case, to Pauline Thompson QC and her team for getting the result and to the jury for not being conned by Spyros. Tower Hamlets Trading Standards already have good form here having brought the £35 million land banking case that would have involved Andy 'Russian brides' Dunne if the hard man hadn't fled to Northern Cyprus.
Spyros should see prison as a blessing – a good opportunity to lose some weight.
Like other convicted drinks investment fraudsters, Spyros chose to plead not guilty and stand trial despite the evidence against him provided by his gulled clients. You would have thought Spyros would have seen that pleading guilty in the hope of receiving a shorter sentence might have been a sensible investment. Evidently not!