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Monday, 10 May 2010

Nouveau World Wines and Finbow: message from the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad

I'm very happy to post this message received this afternoon from DC Carl Hughes of the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad.

If you wish to fill out a witness statement about Nouveau World Wines/ Finbow Wine Ltd please do follow DC Carl Hughes' instructions and go to your local police station. Do not call the number given as it is important that the investigation is not hampered.

Dear Jim 

I am one of the investigating officers for Operation Iceman, the enquiry into Nouveau World Wines Ltd and Finbow Wines Ltd. I have been following your blog with interest and feel I need to make contact with you and also to ask whether you could publish this email for your readers to see.

It is appropriate at this time to explain why victims of this alleged fraud have not yet been contacted directly. It was decided at an early stage that this strategy would not be beneficial to the investigation due to the large numbers of investors affected by this. To be in contact, providing updates and taking statements from well over a hundred people, would mean that our resources would not be deployed to their fullest potential, i.e. seeking the evidence to prosecute those responsible. Still, having spoken to a number of people who have contacted this office, they are all following your blog and so I hope to be able to reach as many as possible through these means.

To clarify, we are investigating Nouveau World Wines Ltd and Finbow Wines Ltd at this stage. No other company is currently being investigated in relation to this matter. The investigation is focussed and certain parameters are being followed by the investigating team.

Following several complaints, the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad executed search warrants at the business premises of the two wine companies, as well as at some residential addresses. Eight people in total were arrested and are currently on police bail whilst enquiries are made and evidence gathered. Once our investigation is complete, a decision will be taken by the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether those responsible should face charges or no further action be taken should there be insufficient evidence against that individual. If this goes to trial, it could be another year before any court case.

At this time, it has been identified that not everyone working for either of these companies were knowingly involved in this alleged fraud. In fact it may be that call staff were themselves duped into believing they were working for a legitimate company and this forms part of our investigation. Those people may now find themselves either unemployed or, having sought work elsewhere, be working for other companies. Rightly or wrongly, they may have taken their client lists with them.

Should investors, who believe they have been duped by either Nouveau or Finbow, wish to provide a statement to police, then we ask that they attend their local police station and, having explained that this is being investigated as Operation Iceman by the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad, ask that a witness statement be taken from them (not to be confused with a crime report. A statement will require your signature confirming a declaration at the top of the page and signatures at the bottom of each page used.) Details we would like to see in the statement would include how they were approached by Nouveau/Finbow, who they spoke to and what they were told. We would also need to know how much was invested, what wine was purchased (name / vintage / quantity), on what dates and using what means (i.e. cheque / CHAPS transfer etc) money was given to Nouveau / Finbow. Was extra paid for storage of the wine? If so, where was the wine being stored? Has any contact been made with the storage facility? Has anybody received a return or their investment back? Can they provide any other relevant information? Also, we ask that copies of all documentation be provided and that the officer taking the statement obtains full contact details. Please understand that providing a statement could mean that if this case goes to trial, you may be called as a witness to give evidence.

We ask that statements and exhibits are forwarded by that police officer to either DC Andy Bailey or myself at SCD6 Fraud Squad, Rm 487 Victoria Block, New Scotland Yard, London SW1H 0BG. Should the police officer wish to speak to us, THEY can call 020 7230 2868. Again, please can I ask your readers not to telephone as if we are constantly answering calls, we will not be investigating these offences.

It is too early to say whether anyone’s investment will be recovered.

I hope this helps and I thank you for your assistance in this matter. I shall continue to monitor your blog should any other matters arise from this.

Kindest regards,

Carl Hughes

Detective Constable

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