wine-searcher

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Saturday, 6 June 2020

The enduring myth of wine's exemption from CGT


From the UKV International AG site


One of the signs of a dubious wine investment company is the bold claim that profits from wine investment are tax free in relation to capital gains tax. Unfortunately the position is not as simple as this.


HMRC advice:

'Wasting assets: wines and spirits

TCGA92/S44 and TCGA92/S45

HMRC’s view of the treatment of bottled wines and spirits was first set out in Tax Bulletin 42 published in August 1999.  This guidance focusses on the availability of the chattels exemption, TCGA92/S262, and the wasting asset exemption, TCGA92/S45(1).

Chattels exemption

Bottled wines and spirits are chattels (tangible moveable property) so disposals for £6,000 or less will be exempt under TCGA92/S262, see CG76573.  If the bottles are disposed of to the same person then they may form a set.  This would depend on the facts of the case including:
  • whether the bottles are “similar and complementary” - which would require the wine in them to have been produced from the same vineyard in the same vintage year, and
  • whether the bottles are of greater worth when sold collectively than when sold individually
See CG76631 onwards for more details.

Wasting asset exemption

A wasting asset is an asset with a predictable life not exceeding fifty years at the time when it was acquired, TCGA92/S44(1).  Whilst this definition would clearly apply to cheap table wine which may turn to vinegar within a relatively short period, even in unopened bottles, our view is that it would certainly not apply to port and other fortified wines which are generally recognised to have a very long storage life.
Between these extremes, there are a number of fine wines which are quite drinkable after a substantial period although of course the taste alters over that time.  With these the basic consideration, in our view, is whether the wine has turned to vinegar or has merely matured.  Of course in practice, most wine is drunk well below the age of 50 years and in that sense it is very difficult to consider the issue in isolation.  However, where the facts justify it, we would normally contend that wine is not a wasting asset if it appears to be fine wine which not unusually is kept (or some samples of which are kept) for substantial periods sometimes well in excess of 50 years.'
There is also this useful article by Philip Whitcomb:

The taxing issue of wine


'Since the age of 18, I have always had an interest in wine. Not just the drinking of it, although I do enjoy that part, but also the laying down and collection of fine wines.
Fine wine investments are often advertised as a tax-free investment, and the average value of fine wines in 2016 rose by around 25%. Whilst such an investment can be tax efficient, there are a number of key considerations which need to be kept in mind. The tax treatment is not as black or white (or perhaps that should be red and white) as you might suppose.'
Read the rest here.

For wine to be a 'wasting asset' it must be undrinkable if kept for 50 years. Although will be true for many wines, it is clear that investment grade fortified wines, such as Port and Madeira, are not wasting assets as they are certainly considered to be drinkable after 50 years from the time they were made assuming the wine was bought soon after it was produced.

These wines may, however, become 'wasting assets' depending on when they were purchased:

HMRC: 'A wasting asset is an asset with a predictable life not exceeding fifty years at the time when it was acquired'.  
If you bought a case of 1963 Taylors Vintage Port soon after it was released, you would be liable for CGT on any profit you made above £6000 on the case. It is likely that HMRC would consider the case as 'similar and complementary' so it would be difficult to claim this £6000 applied to each bottle. 1963 Taylors is still available today as wine-searcher shows and if bought now might well count as a 'wasting asset' as it might well not be drinkable in 2070.
Top Bordeaux, especially from good vintages, clearly has a life of more than 50 years. For instance wine-searcher today lists three pages of 1970 Lafite-Rothschild being offered for sale around the world. Either there is an extraordinary demand for expensive vinegar or there is a widespread expectation that the 1970 Lafite will still make pleasurable drinking. Again when the asset was bought will be a crucial factor in determining whether it is a 'wasting asset' or not.   
It is prudent to assume that First Growth and other top Bordeaux reds as well as Sauternes and Barsacs are not wasting assets if purchased either en primeur or soon after bottling as they have a life expectancy of more than 50 years. Of course it will be rare that Sauternes and Barsacs with the exception of d'Yquem make enough profit when sold to qualify for CGT.  

Inheritance tax
The position regarding inheritance tax is more straightforward. Wine counts as part of your estate full stop. There are no exemptions. Its value is calculated on what it would sell for now rather than on its price when bought. 

Monday, 23 March 2020

Dow & Jones wound up in High Court – overpriced wine investments and stock not bought



Dow & Jones, a wine investment company that investdrinks has long warned against using, was would up in London's High Court on Tuesday 17th March. Wine was sold at double its value, much of the stock wasn't bought and false accounts were filed at Companies House. See announcement from the Insolvency Service below. I trust that criminal charges will be brought against those responsible.  
                                         Additional services!!

 Contact address on website: 16 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6BX
was a virtual office
Dow And Jones Limited was wound up in the public interest on 17 March 2020 in the High Court of Justice before Deputy Judge Jones. The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator.
At the hearing to consider the petition to wind up the company, the court heard that Dow and Jones Limited was incorporated in September 2015, with a registered office in Sidcup, Kent, and a trading address in Central London until May 2019.
The Insolvency Service, however, conducted confidential investigations into the wine merchants having received complaints about Dow and Jones’s trading practices.
Investigators discovered that the company sold wine to members of the public as an investment opportunity. Dow and Jones, however, usually sold the stock to those investor customers at double the normal retail price, making it unlikely that investors would ever get their original capital back or make a profit.
Sales staff working for Dow and Jones falsely claimed to investors that additional purchases were required to ensure that a portfolio of wines could be sold quicker and at a higher price.
Dow and Jones had also failed to honour customer orders going back to 2016, with the company also having filed inaccurate accounts at Companies House.
In her judgment, Deputy Judge Jones stated that “there is something extremely wrong about this company”, before confirming that the promised returns to investors were “vastly overstated”.
Irshard Mohammed, Senior Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said
Similar to boiler room operations, Dow and Jones used sales scripts from previously failed companies, which assisted salesmen to convince people, including the vulnerable, to invest their money in unregulated investments. Even those customers who received the wine they had paid for lost a sizable proportion of their investment, as the wine was materially overpriced.
The courts recognised the unscrupulous nature of Dow and Jones when it wound-up the company and our advice is always to reject unsolicited investment offers that sound too good to be true.
All enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to:
  • The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 16th Floor, 1 Westfield Avenue, Stratford, London, E20 1HZ
  • Telephone: 020 7637 1110
  • Email: piu.or@insolvency.gov.uk

Notes to editors

Dow And Jones Limited (Company number: 09778709) was incorporated on 15 September 2015. The current registered office is located at Onega House, 112 Main Road, Sidcup, Kent, DA14 6NE and it had trading addresses at 4th Floor, 50 Essex Street, London, WC2R 3JF until May 2019 and 16 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6BX, being a virtual office address.
The current recorded director of the company is Mr Anthony Collins, formerly known as Kyrone Collins, whose date of birth is recorded as being in June 1988.
The Petition was presented by The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) on 12 February 2020 in the High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts in England and Wales (CR-2020-001052), under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 following confidential enquiries by Company Investigations under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Mayfair Worldwide Trading etc: fraudsters jailed for duping wine investors out of nearly £1m

 Home page of Mayfair Worldwide Trading Ltd


 Mayfair Worldwide Trading Limited
– 'Trusted Worldwide' !!!!

Christopher Brummitt
currently on the run 



Press release: 5th April 2019

'A group of fraudsters were jailed for a combined 17 years and 9 months today for their part in an elaborate wine investment scam which conned nearly £1m out of investors, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable.

Adam Edwards, Barry Warner, Christopher Brummit, Tarik Drissi and James Brooks were today sentenced at Southwark Crown Court for their actions between 2013 and 2015.

The five men operated three fake companies - Mayfair Worldwide Trading Ltd, Commodex Global Limited and Winchester Associates Ltd. These companies claimed to be established fine-wine brokers based in prime locations such as Berkeley Square, Mayfair but were in fact based in industrial estate units on the outskirts of Great Dunmow in Essex.

The gang cold-called fine-wine investors from a ‘sucker list’, and through a series of aggressive sales tactics, managed to defraud a number of wine holdings from vulnerable victims. Once these had been obtained, they would be sold on to legitimate buyers, with the proceeds pocketed by the fraudsters.
Victims were then told a series of elaborate lies about the whereabouts of their money. Some were told that their wine had been reinvested into graphene, diamonds or gold.

Sian Mitchell from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division said:

“This was an unscrupulous gang who would go to great lengths to defraud elderly and vulnerable people out of their very valuable wines, many of which represented their savings for their retirement. One of the victims was a disabled man who, as a result of not receiving payment, was unable to buy a new wheelchair.

“They went to great lengths to legitimise their fraudulent activities - Mayfair Worldwide Trading issued a bogus press release claiming that the company had won the ‘2014 ID Times Trading Award for Best Asset Exchange Programme and the Internship Europe Excellence Award.’ Obviously, no such awards existed, and were designed to dupe innocent investors.

“We are delighted to have secured custodial sentences for this group, and will continue to prosecute those who think they can benefit from fraud.”

How the wine fraud operated

1.    Victim A is cold called by ‘David Barrington’ from Mayfair World Trading. Having in reality spoken to the defendant Adam Edwards, Victim A agrees to sell his wines to Mayfair Worldwide Trading (MWT) for £38,228 in a ‘graphene asset swap’, on the understanding graphene will be sold and the sum paid to him in 28 days
2.    The victim instructed LCB Bonded Warehouse to transfer wines to the account of MWT at EHD Bonded Warehouse
3.    A legitimate buyer, Vintners Fine Wine Merchants Ltd, agree to buy the wine for £27,470 and instructs EHD to transfer wines to them
4.    Vintners Ltd transfers payment of £30,970 for these wines (and £3,500 worth of other wine) to the bank account of MWT - none is paid to the victim.

5.    Having spoken to another employee with an assumed name ‘Peter Phillips’ and told there is a problem with the graphene market, Victim A is now told his wines will now be converted to diamonds and sold
6.    Having received no money and struggling to contact MWT, Victim A contacts the police to report the fraud



Sentences
  • Adam James Edwards - 6 years plus 5 years Director’s Disqualification Order
  • Barrymore Alexis Warner - 5 ½ years
  • Tarik Drissi - 3 years
  • James Robert Brooks  - 20 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years, 300 hours unpaid work
  • Christopher Brummitt – Sentenced in absence – 3 years 3 months, 5 years Director’s Disqualification Order

Other details:

Sian Mitchell is a Specialist Prosecutor from the Specialist Fraud Division of the Crown Prosecution Service'

The successful investigation was a collaboration between Essex Police and the Met. 

Comment:
Good to see these fraudsters sent to jail. Hopefully Christopher Brummitt, who has fled, will soon be caught. However, would have liked to have seen longer disqualifications from serving as a director unless the disqualification period runs from time of release from prison. 



Mayfair's pack of lies