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Friday, 22 June 2018

Montevino Partners/ Spirited Ventures – police warning of possible recovery fraud


 PS Escrow – about us


 Claiming 15 years experience but website 
set up in May 2018



A warning from Hertfordshire Police's Serious Fraud and Cyper Unit has recently been sent to clients of the now failed Montevino Partners/Spirited Ventures warning of possible recovery fraud by PS Escrow mediation in Dubai:


I am confident that the Dubai company has no connection with PS Escrow Inc in Los Angeles.  

Police warning: 

20th June 2018

Dear Sir/Madam,

RE: MVP

My apologies for contacting some of you out of the blue. I was the officer asked to look at a complaint made by some customers of Montevino Partners/Spirited Ventures that the companies were responsible for committing a fraud. Although one member of staff, Mr Michael MOORE was clearly a fraudster, and has been convicted of fraud, I could not prove that Montevino Partners/Spirited Ventures was a fraudulent vehicle or that it committed a fraud (as opposed to being a badly run business).

The reason I am contacting some of you for the first time, is that I have been made aware that some former investors have been contacted by a male claiming to be a David Halliday of Pearson Stone (PS Escrow) company in Dubai, and offering to buy back wine for well over the purchase price, and offering compensation.

The company website http://www.psescrowmediation.com/ and @psescrowmediation.com e-mail domain appears on research to have been registered on 08/05/2018, and if you have had a chance to look at the website, you will have probably noticed it is rather a thin site, and contains such odd turns of phrase as

“We cannot operate a robotic service or offer a naive on-line facility as this would not aid our client’s greatest. We deal with transactions that require an unmeasurable amount of care and precision and as such do so with our client’s interest at the basis.”

I have spoken with Action Fraud, who have confirmed that have already received a complaint of fraud against this company with regards to “Park First Limited” investments, and appear to have been offering similar compensation – at a cost. I can not confirm that Pearson Stone Escrow Mediation is a fraud, however I strongly suspect that this is a Recovery Fraud (please see the action fraud information on this type of fraud by either clicking on the link (https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/sites/default/files/Fraud%20recovery%20fraud.doc.pdf) or for the more cautious of you go to the Action Fraud website and search for “Recovery Fraud”), and would recommend you are cautious if this company or a similar company contacts you – just because the telephone number appears to be in Dubai, it is very easy to buy access to a virtual telephone number that can be based anywhere in the world.

If you have paid money/given wine to this company and not received what you were expecting, I would urge you to report the matter to Action Fraud.

If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call.

Regards

G.R.Turrell-Oldacre

DC 2133 TURRELL-OLDACRE
SERIOUS FRAUD AND CYBER UNIT

cyber crime web image v1 (portrait)
( TEL: 01707638417
2 FAX: 01707638472
+ MAIL: HERTFORDSHIRE CONSTABULARY,
SERIOUS FRAUD AND CYBER UNIT,
POLICE HEADQUARTERS,STANBOROUGH ROAD,
WELWYN GARDEN CITY, HERTS, AL8 6XF

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Crimson Fine Wines – two directors banned 20 years in total

 


Craig Cooper and Jefferey Kushner, the two directors of Crimson Fine Wines Ltd, which was closed in the public interest on 17th August 2015 in the High Court in London, have been banned from acting as directors of UK companies for a total of 20 years. 

The company was incorporated was incorporated on 21st February 2011 with Craig Cooper and Jeffrey Kushner as directors. Cooper was only very briefly a director resigning on 23rd March 2011. However, as Kushner is resident in Canada, it was Cooper who ran the company. 

 

Crimson's explanation of the advantages of wine investment:


Crimson Fine Wines investment pitch did indeed turn out to be a 'story' with unfortunate investors owed £989,258 in unpurchased wine. 

•••

Press release from The Insolvency Service:

'Directors’ conduct in fine wine investment scam leaves sour taste 

Two directors of a company that traded in fine wines have been disqualified for a combined 20 years, following an Insolvency Service investigation. 

Customers who thought they were investing in fine wines investment scheme have been left out of pocket by nearly £1 million.

The investigation by the Insolvency Service found that Crimson Fine Wines Limited, based initially in London and then in Sittingbourne in Kent, used cold calling tactics and then failed to purchase or allocate wines to customers who had paid for their investments. The scheme offered investors returns over 12 months to five years, at a time when they claimed the property market and shares were less attractive.

The Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted disqualification undertakings from Craig Cooper and Jefferey Kushner, preventing them from acting as directors for 11 and 9 years respectively.


Kushner was the listed director of Crimson Fine Wines Limited but lived in Canada, and allowed Cooper, who had previous experience in the industry, to run the operation.

As a result of this failure, at the time of liquidation of Crimson Fine Wines Limited there was insufficient wine held in the bonded warehouse to satisfy customers’ claims.

Additionally, Cooper used the company’s bank account for his own personal benefit, used his own personal bank account for the receipt of company funds and was paid at least one third share of £114,106 in dividends. Kushner was negligent in failing to monitor the company account, allowing it to be used for non-commercial benefits, but also received at least one third share of £114,106 in dividends.

Customer claims in the liquidation totalled £989,258, of the overall debts on liquidation of £1,080,724.

Karen Jackson, Official Receiver, said:

One of the main purposes of the Company Directors Disqualification Act is to ensure proper standards of conduct of company directors are maintained and to raise those standards where appropriate.

These disqualifications should serve as a reminder that the Insolvency Service will investigate unacceptable conduct by company directors.

The Insolvency Service will take action against directors who do not take their obligations seriously and abuse their position.

Notes to editors

Jeffrey Kushner’s date of birth is December 1980 and he resides in Ontario, Canada.
Craig Cooper’s date of birth is January 1983 and he resides in Chatham, Kent.

Crimson Fine Wines Ltd (CRO No. 07537346) was incorporated on 15 January 2008 and latterly traded from Sears Business Centre, 3-9 Station Street, Sittingbourne, United Kingdom, ME10 3DU.

Cooper was initially appointed as the company’s co-director with Kushner from incorporation on 1 February 2011. Cooper then resigned as a director at Companies House on 22 March 2011 but continued to act as a director until the company went into liquidation on 17 August 2015. The estimated deficiency at the date of Liquidation was £1,080,724.

On 18 July 2017, the Secretary of State accepted a Disqualification Undertaking from Craig Cooper, effective from 8 August 2017, for 11 years.

On 25 May 2017, the Secretary of State accepted a Disqualification Undertaking from Jeffrey Kushner, effective from 15 June 2017, for 9 years.

A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:

  • act as a director of a company
  • take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
  • be a receiver of a company’s property
Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.
Persons subject to a disqualification order are bound by a range of other restrictions.'


 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Montevino Partners Ltd bust for £1.5 million


'A wine merchant you can trust' 
Yes! ... to go bust owing £1.5 million 

Thomas White – sole director of Spirited Ventures Ltd 
and Montevino Partners Ltd



At its creditors' meeting on 28th April 2017 Thomas White, sole director of Montevino Partners Ltd, revealed in his Statement of Affairs, that the company had debts of just under £1.5 million.  

The Statement of Affairs has yet to appear on Companies House website*. However, the following figures were provided by a creditor who attended the 28th April meeting.  

From the £1.465 million of total debt, 53 individuals are owed £946,166 with trade customers owed £450,166 and HMRC £62,743. I assume that the 53 individuals are unfortunate investors, who thought they were buying wine from Montevino Partners but who now find that their wine was never bought and quite probably never ordered. 

I understand that White has chosen to blame Brexit for the company's problems. All very convenient! However, I cannot see how Brexit prevents a company placing orders for wine for which they have received payment. 

Take, for example, the invoice sent an investor who has sunk over £100,000 in Montevino Partners for no wine. This invoice was sent out on 4th July acknowledging receipt of £76,320 for 636 bottles of Poderi Gianni Gagliardo Barolo Serre. The investor was assured that 'We will now begin the Wine transfer process. You will be kept up to date every step of the way.' 

Unforgivably this Barolo was never ordered from Stefano Gagliardo as the producer confirmed in email on 20th January 2017. Gagliardo explains that in June 2016 he had a visit from people from Montevino Partners: it was 'in June 2016. Since then, I never received feedback, reservations or orders. Please double check, because if they sold you Barolo Serre 10 Anni ’09, ’10, ‘11, it means they sold something they never bought.'  

This is the second  company that traded as Montevino Partners to go bust. Spirited Ventures Ltd was the first going into liquidation in July 2016 with declared debts of £691,326. However, due to White's failure to list individual creditors it is not known what the real deficiency for Spirited Ventures Ltd. White's two Montevino companies have now racked up debts of at least £2,156,326. 

Thomas White has been proposing to set another phoenix company where his salary would be an eye-watering £84,500 in 2017 and a reduced salary of just £53,500 reduced as he would accept a dividend. Presumably it is White's ambition to rack up an even bigger debt when this new phoenix company in turn goes bust. Incredibly, despite all the evidence to the contrary, White had persuaded a few presumably desperate individual creditors to back this third company. 

Details of backing – Thomas White (13th February 2017):

'With regards to the feedback from the group, at this point the highlights are :


- We have 4/6 that are prepared to assist financially to start a Newco. 

- We have further 7 that are willing to support the firm and assist in its success but at this time are unable to contribute to the set up.



So I'm hopeful that will be sorted ASAP.


- The rest of the group have at this point showed no interest or have opted out.'



It is not clear whether White's proposed new phoenix company is still being readied for 'take-off'. I hope the scale of the combined losses (£2.15 million) racked up by Spirited Ventures Ltd and Montevino Partners Ltd will have persuaded them that White only has a reverse Midas touch. They should conclude that it makes no sense to throw more good money after bad. 


* Update 15.5.17) Companies House now lists that these documents have been received (15.5.17) and that they will be available within five days.