Scott Tolhurs, a 51-year-old man from the Barossa Valley in Adelaide, Australia, appeared in Tanunda Magistrates Court on Sept. 22, charged with 15 counts of theft and one count of fraud, according to Australian media reports.
Image courtesy of: Wine Business Watch
Police say Tolhurst accepted nearly $6 million in wine payments from wine customers in 2018, but he did not make the wine available to buyers.
Agents from the local police Serious and Organized Financial Crime Investigation Unit arrested him in July. The court will next sentence him to stand trial in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on September 24, 2021. Under South Australian law, conviction on each count of theft and fraud carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
According to insiders familiar with the local situation in Barossa, the case broke out as early as the end of last year, but was not reported on a large scale by the media at the time, and was only disclosed by the media after the recent court session.
The victims, among them Chinese, were duped into believing that Torhurst, who claimed to be the chief operating officer of Grambucci Wines, could offer Penfolds at low prices. A local wine professional with knowledge of the case told WBO.