A former fine wine consultant at an exclusive Auckland auction house has been convicted of 16 counts of fraud after defrauding affluent clients of over $1.3 million – including faking vintages.
Simon Gregory Mickleson, 43, appeared in the Auckland District Court yesterday pleading guilty to all 16 charges. He will be sentenced on June 14. Among his alleged victims are leading surgeons, company owners, senior law firm partners and the legal counsel to the Todd Property Group, owned by New Zealand’s richest family.
Mickleson was the fine wine consultant at Webb’s auction house and police said he would sell bottles of investment wines for thousands of dollars per bottle. But he also allegedly made unauthorised purchases on clients’ credit cards, took money for wine he did not have, and altered labels to make wines appear older than they were.
Mickleson was also charged with using an altered document after he allegedly engaged a graphic designer to change labels in a photograph to make a case of 2001 Chateau Lafite appear to be from the valuable 1981 vintage. He offered these doctored wines to two clients for $98,000 for 24 bottles, though both pulled out of the sale suspecting the images were false.
For more see: Fairfax NZ News Story 24/03/12 by Ian Steward and Nicola Russell