A BRENT councillor has come under scrutiny over his role in a vintage wine business used to defraud investors.

Templar Vintners Ltd attracted £100,000 from its victims, offering them the chance to buy wine while it was still in the barrel, before it had been bottled or released.

But instead of investing the funds Benedict Moruthoane, who set it up, used it to fund his “lavish” lifestyle. He was jailed for fraud last month.

Councillor James Allie, 41, who represents Alperton and has been a leading figure in the Lib Dem group, was made company secretary in June, 2009.

He was never charged with any offence relating to the criminal activity but has now been referred to Brent Council's in-house legal team for not listing the appointment in his declaration of interests.

He chaired the council committee responsible for scrutinising the authority's own budget.

Councillor Ann John, leader of the council, said: “He's a prominent member, now in opposition, and he does chair one of the big committees on the scrutiny side of the council.

"One of the things that I am sure about is that you do need to declare everything that is appropriate in the register of members interests

“We cannot find any declaration in the members interests and that's why I referred it to the borough solicitor.”

Anna Macarthur, a spokesman for Brent Council, said: “We have been informed but it would not be appropriate to comment further at this point.”

DC Peter Thody, from the Economic Crime Unit at Herts police, said Moruthoane “used this scam in order to live a lavish lifestyle and relied on selling en primeur wine which the customers do not expect to see for some time.

“The wine was offered cheaper than their competitors and I would advise people of the age old saying 'if something seems too good to be true then it generally is'.”

Moruthoane was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for the Templar Vintners scam and a similar fraud that netted £800,000 through another business, International Wine Commodities Ltd.

He was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on January 5.

The Harrow Times last week contacted Cllr Allie for a comment but has not received a reply.