International businessman sentenced to two years in prison for wine fraud case – FINCHANNEL

The FINANCIAL — Federal Bureau of Investigation sentenced OMAR KHAN to two years in prison by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in connection with an investment fraud scheme involving rare and expensive wines and his identity theft of his lawyer as part of this scheme. KHAN previously pleaded guilty on March 28, 2024 to one count of aggravated identity theft.

“Whether it is a fraudulent scheme involving trading enterprises, cryptocurrencies, or expensive wines, the career prosecutors in this office will bring justice to the perpetrators of these crimes. Omar Khan stole millions of dollars from his victims, leaving devastation as a result of his lies, but he now rightfully faces two years in federal prison and has been ordered to pay restitution to his victims,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

“Omar Khan’s wine and dine project has not aged well. For four years, Khan exploited the wine industry’s prestigious reputation to siphon millions of dollars from well-meaning investors, making empty promises of future, lavish networking events, while offering excuses for the lack of yield. He used his public notoriety as a wine lover to lure and convince his victims to finance large sums of money, costing some their entire investments. “Today’s sentence underscores the FBI’s tireless efforts to investigate those who manipulate their social status and relationships to deprive others of their wealth,” said James Smith, FBI Assistant Director in Charge.

According to the charging documents and other documents and statements made in court:

Between approximately 2015 and 2019, OMAR KHAN orchestrated a global fraud scheme involving the solicitation of investments for wine tastings and networking events. KHAN founded and operated a management consulting firm (“Firm-1”) in New York, New York. Firm‑1’s website describes KHAN as one of the “world’s most international consultants and speakers.” KHAN has been featured by Forbes magazine as a “fanatical wine connoisseur.”

KHAN hosted networking events for wealthy and successful individuals during which he privately solicited victims to invest in businesses and events involving rare and vintage wines and expensive dinners. For example, on or about December 13, 2017, KHAN hosted a dinner titled “An Evening of Daring Duets and Tantalizing Trios,” during which KHAN served vintage wines and a variety of expensive food items, including scallops. Nantucket bay, oysters, caviar, risotto cooked in bone marrow broth, uni served in its shell and jalapeño mousse.

At these extravagant dinners and networking events, KHAN would solicit individuals to invest in other expensive dinners, networking events, and businesses. KHAN represented to his investors that they would make a profit on their investment. KHAN frequently lied to potential investors to induce them to invest. With few exceptions, KHAN misappropriated his investors’ investment money and used the proceeds for his personal expenses. KHAN then made additional false statements to his investors to excuse his inability to repay them.

For example, one of KHAN’s victims (“Victim-1”) was a New York retiree who, in early 2015, attended one of KHAN’s dinners that involved expensive wines and expensive cuisine. After this first dinner, KHAN began actively communicating with Victim-1 and they struck up a friendship. After Victim-1 attended several of these events, KHAN solicited Victim-1 to invest her money with KHAN to host similar wine and dine events for other wealthy individuals. At first, victim 1 invested small amounts of money for the dinners. Later, Victim-1 began investing larger amounts of money with KHAN.

Around 2018, KHAN induced Victim-1 to consolidate all of its investments to date into a large, purported consulting deal. In doing so, KHAN directed Victim-1 to invest approximately $5,000,000 in a famous French vineyard located in Bordeaux, France (“Vineyard-1”). KHAN presented the investment as a consulting deal involving a New York club backed by Vineyard-1. After procrastinating for several months, KHAN began making up excuses to justify the delay in closing the deal. For example, KHAN falsely claimed in an email to Victim-1 that Victim-1’s money “was in motion,” but the next day falsely claimed that the IRS had placed a lien on his business account for unrelated activities in Dubai (“IRS imposed a lien on us, due to “unusual activity”, “unpaid taxes” and various other allegations, of which I became aware this morning, to my surprise. “).

Similarly, in February 2018, KHAN falsely claimed to another victim (“Victim-2”) that KHAN’s bank had delayed a wire transfer from KHAN to Victim-2 due to a lack of authorization documents . In a March 2018 email, KHAN falsely represented to Victim-2 that KHAN’s attorneys had sent legal requests to the bank to resolve the issue. In both of these emails, KHAN purported to forward emails from KHAN’s attorney regarding the bank transfer delay. The March email also stated that KHAN’s lawyers had “issued a legal request” to the bank to resolve the wire transfer delay. The emails appearing to come from KHAN’s lawyer were fraudulent and KHAN had sent them pretending to be his own lawyer.

On or about September 3, 2019, several victims filed a civil action against KHAN (the “Khan Lawsuit”), alleging that KHAN induced them to invest in dinner and wine businesses based on fraudulent misrepresentations. In early September, the New York Post published several articles about KHAN – one regarding the Khan trial and another about a criminal investigation into KHAN’s businesses. KHAN then left the country, eventually residing in a hotel in Sri Lanka for several years. In February 2024, KHAN was deported from Sri Lanka and arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

In addition to the prison sentence, OMAR KHAN, 58, was sentenced to one year of supervised release and ordered to make restitution to the victims in the amount of $6,699,582.

Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the FBI.