DA’s Office Probing Wine Consultant Accused Of Scamming Wall Street Elite
BY KEVIN DUGAN | New York Post
A wine-loving business consultant accused of bilking Wall Street highfliers out of millions is being probed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, The Post has learned.
Prosecutors in the DA’s Major Economic Crimes bureau have met with multiple alleged victims of Omar Khan over allegations that he swindled Wall Street bigwigs and other wealthy New Yorkers out of millions for wine events that never happened, sources said.
Specifically, the top prosecutor is looking at claims that Khan once doctored an e-mail from the office of Philippe Rothschild, the owner of the upscale Chateau Mouton winery, to falsely showcase his ties to the esteemed winery — and dupe people into investing with him, according to two people familiar with the DA’s questioning.
Khan is known in New York business circles for hosting rarified dinners where expensive wines — some worth more than $30,000 — are served to about a dozen guests, usually wealthy and important people.
Guests who have attended Khan’s events include Pierre Lurton, the director of Chateau Cheval Blanc, a high-end wine estate owned by luxury brand LVMH; Sir Ivor Martin Crewe, the master of University College at Oxford, and retired real estate developer Daniel Rose, known for building Pentagon City in Arlington, Va., according to sources and social media.
As The Post exclusively reported last week, a group of high-profile Wall Streeters, including Sanford C. Bernstein CEO Robert van Brugge, are suing Khan in Manhattan state court, claiming he conned them into investing into fake wine events.
The group is seeking more than $8 million plus interest — the bulk of which came from ex-Renaissance Technologies researcher Kresimir Penavic, who invested close to $5 million with Khan through 27 events from 2015 to 2018.
Three other suits have accused Khan, head of Park Avenue consulting firm Sensei International, of similar allegations. He has denied the allegations in the suits, and has settled one from 2015.
The probe from Vance’s office, however, shows an escalation in potential woes for Khan.
“It’s not civil, it’s criminal,” one person familiar with the investigation told The Post.
Of interest to the prosecutors on the case, which is being run by Assistant DA Lisa White, is the allegation in the latest lawsuit by the group of Wall Streeters that Khan “manufactured” an e-mail from Rothschild’s office because, if true, it would suggest he knowingly defrauded investors, the people said.
Khan said he wasn’t aware of any investigation and declined to comment further.
But in a 20-minute interview with The Post on Sept. 4, Khan blamed “cash-flow issues” that stemmed from clients who failed to pay him.
“There’s no e-mail from Philippe Rothschild himself that had anything to do with anything here,” Khan said after calling a Post reporter’s cell phone.
Later, Khan suggested he never had any specific dealing with the Rothschild winery — and never claimed otherwise.
“I shared what I thought some of [Rothschild’s] possible interests would be, and that may have been construed or interpreted as whatever. I’m not saying I misunderstood [the Rothschilds] or they even made any explicit suggestions. They did not.”
He went on to insist that there was nothing in writing to show otherwise — before realizing there might, in fact, be written evidence.
“Certainly, there were not, yeah, there was nothing written to that effect that I’m aware of. I could be wrong. I could be wrong,” he said.
After The Post published the story about his alleged wine scheme. Khan sent a text saying the story could hurt his ability to make amends with investors.
“I didn’t mention that unfortunately your running the story as we’ve started settling as best we can, will make it so much harder,” he wrote.
“I can but ask you give that some thought. If we made no progress, it would still be a story later. Right now, everyone stands to lose,” he wrote.
A spokesman for the DA’s office declined to comment.
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