Morocco extradites to the United States an Englishman wanted by the FBI

Morocco has extradited to the United States a British national accused of fraud and money laundering. Read more.

The extradition was confirmed on December 16 in a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Burton was extradited yesterday to the Eastern District of New York from Morocco, where he was arrested in 2022 after entering on a false Zimbabwean passport.  Burton’s co-defendant, James Wellesley, is still the subject of extradition proceedings in the UK. 

Stephen Burton, a citizen of the United Kingdom, will appear this Saturday in Brooklyn federal court before Judge Taryn A. Merkl, on an indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with a scheme perpetrated through Bordeaux Cellars, a company he managed. 

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James Smith, Assistant Director in charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the extradition and indictment. 

“With Burton’s successful extradition to the Eastern District of New York, he will now get a taste of justice for the fine wine fraud alleged in the indictment,” said U.S. Attorney Peace, who was quick to thank the Moroccan authorities for their assistance. 

The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of the defendant from Morocco.

The indictment alleges that from at least June 2017 until February 2019, the investors posed as executives of a company called Bordeaux Cellars. 

The defendants solicited investors, including residents of the Eastern District of New York, including at investor conferences held in the United States and abroad.  The defendants represented to investors that Bordeaux Cellars was negotiating loans between investors and wealthy wine collectors that would be fully secured by valuable wine collections.  

The defendants promised that the investors would receive regular interest payments from the borrowers, and that Bordeaux Cellars would retain custody of the wine securing the loans for as long as the loans were outstanding.  

These promises were false, the “wealthy wine collectors” did not really exist, and Bordeaux Cellars did not have custody of the wine that was supposed to guarantee the loans.  Instead, the defendants used the proceeds of the loans to pay fraudulent interest to investors and for personal expenses. 

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  If found guilty, the defendants could each face up to 20 years in prison. 

The case is being handled by the Bureau’s Securities Fraud and Business Section.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren Elbert and Benjamin Weintraub are prosecuting the case.

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