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Vintage Wine Collector Faces Federal Charges Of Fraud

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ARCADIA (CBS) — An influential vintage wine collector has been charged with fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in loans and trying to sell $1.3 million in counterfeit French Burgundy.

Rudy Kurniawan, 35, was arrested Thursday at his Arcadia home by FBI agents after a years-long investigation by the FBI Art Crime Team, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kurniawan, an Indonesian national, was charged by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday. Kurniawan faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison if convicted on all the charges.

A 2006 Times profile of Kurniawan said he had the ability to influence worldwide prices for rare wines and had “amassed one of the world’s premier wine collections, estimated at its peak to be more than 50,000 bottles of the most celebrated Bordeaux and Burgundy wines of the last century.”

Federal authorities allege Kurniawan consigned at auction at least 84 bottles, or about $600,000 worth, of counterfeit wine he claimed were from the Domaine Ponsot winery in France in 2008, according to the Times.

Kurniawan allegedly tried to repeat the fraud in London in February, using a straw seller to auction off 78 bottles of Burgundy wine he claimed to be Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, expected to sell for $736,500, the Times reported.

Neither Kurniawan nor his attorney could be reached for comment. Kurniawan remains in custody until his bail can be set at a hearing next week.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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