Investors were told that wines bought for £2 a bottle including transport could be sold in China for £3 producing a rapid profit. Investors were offered a buy back guarantee if the wine was unsold after 12 months. The guarantee proved to be worthless.
Also in the dock at Southwark Crown Court are 35-year old Dina Snelling, Daniel’s sister and the office manager, Rebecca McDonald, the accounts manager, and Simon Dempsey, the director of Finbow Wines Ltd and Dina Snelling’s boyfriend. Dempsey was not involved in Nouveau.
Although Daniel Snelling was a director of Nouveau, he was not a named director of Finbow. The prosecution, however, alleged that he was fully involved in setting up and running Finbow, where he used the name Aston. It was Daniel Snelling was made the arrangements to buy the three containers that were sent. It was he who informed the telesales staff that they were no longer working for Nouveau World Wines and were now employed by Finbow.
Investors' money that should have been used to buy Australian wine through Nouveau World Wines Ltd was used to set up the Finbow operation.
The court of told of two sets of invoices for Nouveau World Wines Ltd. The first set was drawn up over the period that the company was active, while the second ‘bogus’ set was produced on a single day 2009, when the Companies Investigation Branch started looking at the company and designed to show that the company had bought more wine than it actually had.
Both companies failed to buy all the wine purchased by investors. Finbow bought £34,000 worth of Italian wine, while taking some £2 million from investors. Instead substantial cash payments were made to the defendants disguised by false invoices. Handwritten annotations on the invoices told a different story and showed which of the defendants the cash being paid. The prosecution said notes were written by Rebecca McDonald - evidence that she was aware that Finbow was a fraud from the outset. One of the cash payments was for a deposit on a Range Rover.
Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC told His Honour Judge Grieve and the Jury how one Finbow investor lost over £120,000 by making five purchases, while another lost £67,000.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The case opened on Thursday at Southwark Crown Court and is expected to last around 10 weeks with the prosecution’s case being completed by early June.