A London solicitor has been jailed for three years for laundering at least £100,000 of the proceeds of a fine wine investment scam.
Michael Lloyd Wilson, former boss of Global Wine Investments, which shut down in 2012, was sentenced at the Old Bailey today after being found guilty by a jury of possessing criminal property.
The court heard that members of the public were tricked into investing tens of thousands of pounds in fine wine, which in most cases they never received. Professional-looking brochures referring to Wilson’s status as a solicitor were used to attract people to the scheme.
Investor losses totalled £360,000. The Crown Prosecution Service said half of that money went to Wilson.
One investor told the court that the scam made him feel ‘duped’ and ‘foolish’, destroying his faith in the City of London. Another said they felt psychologically damaged.
His Honour Judge Cooke accepted that Wilson recognises his culpability and noted that he has promised to pay back investors £50,000. But he said that some of the investors were quite elderly and repayment might be ‘too late for them’.
Sentencing, he said ‘You were responsible for a very considerable amount of loss to people who in some cases couldn’t afford to lose the money they have lost. … This is a high culpability case.’
He added: ‘I regret the damage that this [sentence] is going to cause other members of your family… but nonetheless I have to deter people from committing offences of this type.’
He sentenced Wilson to three years in prison and disqualified him from acting as a company director for seven years.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority said it was aware of the case and had been waiting for criminal proceedings to finish before deciding the appropriate course of action.