Wine Name:

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Speed Associates Ltd – a warning from Grant Thornton

From: David Ingram (Grant Thornton) – liquidator for Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd 
Just received the email below from a BFW creditor. Suffice to say the liquidation of BFW continues.  We have had no dealings with Speed Associates and BFW did not purchase wine from them. This appears to be another scam so I’d be grateful if you could put an alert on your blog to that effect.
Email from BFW creditor:
'I was wondering if you could help me.
I am one of the unfortunate investors who has lost money due to the liquidation of the above company. I have been receiving correspondence from Grant Thornton in relation their investigations into the whereabouts of all the wine which investors purchased. However, today, I have received a phone call from a company called Speed Associates, a chap called James Clarke.  He informed me that they had taken over the liquidation of this company due to Grant Thornton having exhausted every avenue.  He told me they were one of the merchants who supplied wine to Bordeaux and that he thinks they may have some of my wines.  He has asked me to provide him with details of the wines I had in my portfolio but I was, obviously, reluctant to do this without checking out his story.  I was, therefore, hoping you would be able to advise me on the validity of this company and person.
I hope you are able to help me and look forward to hearing from you.'

Speed Associates Ltd 
Although Speed Associates Ltd was founded on 9th December 2002, it remained a dormant company for many years. The last set of dormant accounts were made up to 31st December 2013. It has one director – Steven Dhadda (DOB: 15.4.1965). He was appointed on 1st June 2014 but the appointment notice was not received by Companies House for filing until 13th July 2015. Until 2015 the company's share capital was £1. However, the last annual return to 9th December 2015 filed on 19th May 2016 shows that the share capital is now £100,000 – all held by Steven Dhadda. On two occasions Speed Associates have been threatened with compulsory strike-off – 14.4.2015 and 15.3.2016. On both occasions this has presumably been because Steven Dhadda has not filed Speed Associates Ltd's annual return on time. 

It is interesting to note James Clarke's (his real name?) claim that Speed Associates Ltd supplied wine to Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd. Firstly because BFW failed to buy a substantial amount of the wine they sold. Secondly and more importantly The Official Receiver was appointed as provisional liquidator for Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd just two days after the period covered (to 31.1.2013) in Speed Associates Ltd in their last set of dormant accounts. 1st January 2014 was a public holiday. 

The claim that Speed Associates Ltd has taken over the liquidation of BFW is also untrue as Grant Thornton's David Ingram, the liquidator, confirms. Ingram's assessment that Steven Dhadda's Speed Associates Ltd is a scam appears to be correct.        

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Banned directors - Guy Hemphill and Nick Stein – start up Hillgate Associates LLP



Guy Francis Hemphill (DOB: 22.3.1966) and Nicholas Martin Stein (DOB: 24.2.1956) banned from being company directors due to Land Heritage (UK) Ltd land banking scam.  Ban runs from 12th May 2010 to 11th May 2017.

Despite being banned directors they have set up Hillgate Associates LLP (incorporated 5th May 2015), which has two branches –  Ebury Wealth and wine-traders. 

Ebury Wealth: 

Ebury Wealth – business and personal financial solutions 

'Additionally, Ebury is able to offer financial solutions for personal financial planning. This could range from Tax Planning to starting a SIPP. Where appropriate this draws on Ebury’s connectivity to the Wealth Management and IFA community, working with IFA’s regularly featuring in the New Model Advisor Top 100. Our financial advisors are selected not only on their investment expertise but also based on approach and attitude, to ensure that we can provide a perfect fit for our clients.

Whether you are looking to generate and sustain wealth creation in your business or to consolidate personally with financial or investment advice, Ebury Wealth offers a holistic personalised approach across a full range of financial service goals.'

Important disclaimers on Ebury Wealth site: 

'Ebury Wealth accepts no responsibility or liability for loss which may arise from accessing or relying on information or ideas contained within this site or provided by a third party as a result of an introduction from Ebury Wealth. Ebury Wealth is not authorised by the FCA and does not offer investment advice.'

' (sic) is an independent marketing website which only acts as an introducer to companies who offer Financial Advice. Companies on our network are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. are not authorised to give any advice and we are not liable for any financial advice provided by, or obtained through a third party.'

'personal financial solutions' – 'not authorised by the FCA and does not offer investment advice'
I'm a little confused here. Ebury Wealth LLP claims to offer personal financial solutions but is not authorised or regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and doesn't give any financial advice. if it really doesn't give financial advice how then can it offer 'personal financial solutions'?   

Wine Traders 

'Wine Traders was formed by a small team with both financial qualifications from the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and wine qualifications from Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). Our vision is to enable investors who have an interest in laying down fine wine to do so with greater transparency and better prices.'

Curiously no mention that the two officers – Guy Hemphill and Nick Stein – were directors of collapsed UK Heritage (UK) Ltd and are currently banned from being directors from 12th May 2010 to 11th May 2017.

NB: Wine Traders has no connection with Winetraders (UK) Ltd established in 1998. 

It is extraordinary that two banned directors – Guy Hemphill and Nick Stein – can set up an LLP offering wine investments and 'personal financial solutions'! 

I'll certainly steer well clear of Hillgate Associates LLP, Ebury Wealth and Wine Traders.

21st July 2016 – Update
Nicholas Stein resigned as an LLP Designated Member on 1st July 2016. Guy Hemphill and Stein have applied to have the
Hillgate Associates LLP struck off from Companies House Register. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Diamond rip off results in 13-year ban for director – Craig Phillip O’Driscoll

Soothing false reassurance ....

Read the small print

Craig Phillip O'Driscoll of Ethical Elegance Ltd banned for 13 years
Press release
Diamond rip off results in 13-year ban for director

First published: 18 May 2016
Director disqualified for 13 years for giving false information to customers and failing to keep proper company books and records.

An investigation by the Insolvency Service has resulted in Craig Phillip O’Driscoll, director of failed investment company Ethical Elegance Limited, being disqualified by the High Court for giving false information to customers to persuade them to transfer valuable wines to the company in exchange for diamonds, and for failing to keep proper company records.
Ethical Elegance Ltd, which operated out of rented addresses in Bromley and Dartford in Kent, traded by offering diamonds to customers in exchange for fine wine assets and by promising to then sell the diamonds on the customers’ behalf.

The Insolvency Service’s investigations found that between May 2013 and August 2013 at least 7 customers were persuaded to transfer wines to the company after being offered diamonds stated to be worth over £240,000. But after transferring their wines none of the customers received any proceeds from the sale of diamonds. Instead customers were sent diamonds in the post, but the values of these were a fraction of the amounts promised. Ethical Elegance Ltd went into liquidation on 29 October 2013 owing debts of over £215,000 to customers.

The investigations also found that Mr O’Driscoll failed to provide any accounting records for Ethical Elegance Ltd to the Liquidators. Without the records it has not been possible to explain expenditure of over £177,000 made from the company’s bank account or to trace diamonds costing over £16,000.

Mr O’Driscoll (33) of Bromley, Kent was disqualified by an order made in the High Court on 13 April 2016, which prevents him from acting as a director of a company for 13 years from 4 May 2016.

Commenting on the disqualifications, Martin Gitner, Deputy Head Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

"Mr O’Driscoll was responsible for the company making false promises to people to persuade them to enter into agreements. He was also responsible for the company failing to keep or produce proper accounting records, the absence of which means that not all the company’s funds and assets can be traced.

Consumers and the wider business community need protection from people who operate companies in such unscrupulous ways.

This disqualification should serve as a warning that if directors behave in this way their conduct will be investigated and they will be removed from the business environment."

Notes to editors
Ethical Elegance Ltd (CRO No. 05978081) was incorporated on 25 October 2006 and was dormant till it commenced trading in March 2013.

Craig Phillip O’Driscoll was appointed as director on 4 March 2013 and remained the sole director thereafter. His date of birth is 28 May 1983.

The company’s registered office address was 145-157 St John’s Street, London EC1V 4PW. The company operated out of rented properties in Bromley and Dartford in Kent.

The company traded by offering to exchange customers’ fine wine investment assets for diamonds and to sell the diamonds on the customers’ behalf. Between May 2013 and August 2013 at least seven customers entered into asset exchange agreements with the company whereby the customers transferred wine assets to the company after being offered diamonds stated to be worth £243,284. The customers’ wines were sold by the company for a total of £128,407. The company failed to acquire diamonds to the values offered to the customers and it failed to sell any diamonds on behalf of customers. The total cost of diamonds purchased by Ethical Elegance Ltd amounted to £44,458. Some of the customers were sent diamonds in the post, but the values of these were substantially below the amounts that had been promised to customers to induce them to enter into the agreements in the first place.

The company entered into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on 29 October 2013. Its assets totalled £3,527 and its liabilities totalled £239,600, giving a deficiency of £236,073. No accounting records for Ethical Elegance Ltd were provided to the Liquidators. In the absence of accounting records it was not possible to explain and account for expenditure from the bank account totalling £177,257 or to trace diamonds purchased by the company costing £16,411.