California wine seller Premier Cru, which filed for bankruptcy last month, is now the target of an FBI investigation following allegations that the company was operating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
The problem is not so much with the wine they were selling, but rather with the wine they said they were going to sell through wine futures and pre-arrival wine. Wine futures means selling wine that is aging but has not yet been bottled in the hopes of getting a pre-bottle bargain; pre-arrival wine has been bottled but hasn’t yet hit store shelves.
Buying on this basis meant shipping was wasn’t always immediate – or at all, as some disgruntled customers claim.
According to CNBC, Premier Cru’s bankruptcy statement listed $70 million in debts and $7 million in assets. Much of that debt is owed to its customers – more than 9,000 of them – including billionaires William Koch and Jeff Greene along with collectors and companies.