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Former James Estate owner faces fraud charges

Former James Estate owner faces fraud charges

Failed wine entrepreneur David Anthony James is facing court again, charged over his involvement in a cheque fraud scheme.

The 56-year-old former millionaire owner of Hunter Valley vineyard James Estate will appear in Newcastle Local Court on September 19 on 98 counts of attempted fraud and one count of fraud.

Detectives from the Financial Crimes Squad allege James was involved in a “cheque kiting” scheme, where he deposited valueless cheques into an account and was able to draw down on uncleared funds of $19,870,000. 

It has been a rocky few years for James.

His companies, including Wine Investment Services, collapsed in 2013, leading to the sale of assets including James Estate Wines at Pokolbin.

In March 2016, police launched Strike Force Farrington to investigate what happened to $5 million worth of missing wine that was being held in trust for more than 300 owners by Wine Investment Services. The collectable and vintage wines included Penfolds Grange, Henschke and Torbreck.

He has also been involved in a bitter divorce battle with ex-wife Trudy and was last year revealed to be living with his elderly mother, collecting Centrelink benefits and involved "six or seven other" court cases in the supreme, federal, family and local courts.