Saturday, 31 July 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
This was the first prosecution brought by the SFO in respect to drinks investment fraud and involved 'investments' in barrels of malt whisky. The case involved Lewis Daulby, who pleaded guilty before the start of the trial, Lee Rosser and Julian Blee. Rosser and Blee were found guilty.
House of Delacroix
This was an associated trial (early 2001) to Cavendish/Hamilton as this was a company dealing in Champagne for the Millennium set up by Blee and Rosser with Craig Dean. Blee and Rosser pleaded guilty before the start of the trial. Craig Dean was found guilty.
Marshall was another malt whisky investment company, which also offered Champagne for the Millennium. The trial was held in the first part of 2004. The appropriately named Stephen Jupe was found guilty.
Vintage Wines of St Albans
The company offered wines and spirits as investments to Americans, targeting doctors in particular. Four of the five defendants were found guilty in August 2008 – one was acquitted. Two of the four couldn't be named at the time. Shameen Suleman was found guilty, while Stephanie Callebaut pleaded guilty before the trial started. Haroon Khatab also also found guilty but his name had to be concealed until he was later pleaded guilty to an Asian meals fraud. This food fraud also involved a couple of victims of the Vintage Wines fraud.
Asian food fraud:
Friday, 23 July 2010
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Senior Portfolio Manager
Encarta Fine Wines Ltd
14-18 Heddon Street
Stapleton illustrated his point with three wines: 2007 Léoville-las-Cases (Encarta price: £1500), 2005 Lynch-Bages (Encarta price: £1400) and 2006 Pichon-Lalande (Encarta price: £895). He claimed an compound annual growth rate of 14% for the Léoville, 13% – Lynch-Bages and 25% for the Pichon.
Remarkable rises and doubtless tempting! However, outside an 'exciting, faced paced broking environment staffed by 'driven, money motivated individuals' the reality is considerably less tempting. wine-searcher.com shows that in mid-June 2010, the 2007 Léoville-las-Cases could be bought for £795 from Robert Rolls (8.6.09), Veblen Wines Ltd had the Lynch-Bages for £775 (10.6.10) and Interest in Wine Ltd had the Pichon at £635.
Furthermore, Encarta's claims of the rise in price of these wines are meaningless and misleading. These percentages show, if they mean anything, only by how much Encarta has whacked up the prices in its short trading history.
In reality wine-searcher shows that the Léoville fell by 10.6% from the lowest price available in June 2009, while the Lynch-Bages was up by 6.5% and the Pichon by 8.7%. Furthermore, prices for these three wines have dropped over the past month with the Léoville (£780: minus 10.7%), Lynch-Bages (£750: 3.3%) and Pichon (£620: 6.5%).
Full advert is here.
However, the Encarta Fine Wines' website explains that its origins were earlier than this:
However, the company would appear to trade from the Bromley as this just ad indicates:
'Encarta fine wines (London/South East) Full Time Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
We currently have full time investment broking vacancies in our team on the trade floor, this is available for driven, money motivated individuals with a passion for sales. Those with experience in stock broking, wine broking or land broking are ideal – although if you have a strong sales background and are sharp on the phone, we want to hear from you! with a basic salary and a strong ongoing commission structure, this is the perfect role for those looking to develop their sales career in an exciting, fast paced broking environment
This is not a job for those afraid of hard work, the job involves speaking to investors across the UK and IRELAND, no matter how wealthy! The hours are long, the job is tough & demanding, BUT the rewards can be tremendous!
Telecommuting is ok.
135 high st
Bromley - BR1 1JF
'Encarta Fine Wines Ltd was registered with companies house in 2009, however has been sole trading since 2006 on very a small scale basis, but must also highlight a mistake* you have which is I am not the sole director, our prices are generally around 25% above the prices shown from some of the larger Merchants for example Farr Vintners, but within this increased price we include storage for up to 5 years**, and of course advice on purchasing.
We can resell to existing clients & potential new clients, portfolios of existing clients thus offering only a 5% selling commission. So I agree we may be more initially to purchase, but also offer investment advice for this service, but are less expensive to sell the portfolio.
* Correct Dean Doughty is also a director
** Five years storage at LCB's Private Reserves is £71.91 inc vat.
From the Encarta website:
'At Encarta we take great pride in helping our clients build the perfect investment portfolio of fine wine.'
Encarta's price for six bottles of 2009 Carruades is £2200 (equivalent to £4400 for a case of 12).A quick look at wine-searcher.com shows that a number of companies are offering a full case (12 bottles) of Carruades at prices ranging from £2400 (Albany Vintners) to £2800 (Farr Vintners are at £2700). In this instance Encarta are a whopping 83% more expensive than the cheapest established fine wine merchant. Encarta: 'the wines that represent good value'!!
I emailed Matthew Hart asking about both the pricing and the choice of Carruades de Lafite as a starter wine for a portfolio.
Matthew Hart's response (15.7.10):
What about the 2007 Lafite Rothschild that we are selling at present for £6000 are you willing to say that this is not competitive??
It seems to me that you have nothing better to do that contact us and keep checking up on our pricing structure!
I suggest you try and track down the scam companies out there that are not actually purchasing wines!!
I am sure one call to LCB and they will confirm that we have a constant stream of wine going into accounts held there.
I will not reply to any further emails that you send to us.'
Your price for 2007 Lafite is certainly more competitive than that quoted for 2009 Carruades. However, it is more expensive than any other companies currently quoted on wine-searcher.
It is also more competitive than than the example of growth sent out by Paul Stapleton on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 featuring 2007 Leoville Las Cases, 2005 Lynch-Bages and 2006 Pichon Lalande. All, particularly the Léoville las Cases and 2005 Lynch Bages well over market price.***
Although I could phone LCB and they might confirm that Encarta have an account with them, they are not going to tell me what is in the account nor what comes in and out, nor whether cases enter at a trickle or a flood. Incidentally when did Encarta open the account at LCB?
Naturally it is entirely up to you whether you respond to my questions. It remains proper that I give you the opportunity to respond.
*** I will be commenting on the example of growth sent out by Paul Stapleton in a separate post. See part 2 here.
Although they may have done a small amount before the company was founded in in July 2009, Encarta Fine Wines Ltd has no track record, particularly in relation to buying en primeur. I wouldn't advise buying en primeur from Encarta until they have established a track and trading record. Nor would I advise buying bottled wine from them until they become more competitive and cease trying to sell investments through cold calls.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Although I cannot reproduce Tony's article I can mention some of its salient points.
Claremont Forbes intends to offer investors parcels of land that already has planning permission. Each land site would be organised and managed as a Limited Liability Partnership.
‘At Claremont Forbes you will find a highly experienced team who take pride in offering a best-in-class service.’
What property experience do you and your team have?
From Tony Hetherington’s article on Midas Extra:
‘So, what is Claremont Forbes offering? So far, not a lot. The company is run by 28-year-old Terence Farr, who has never headed a limited company before. He told me that it is offering land in Kent, but he added that it was ‘in the process of acquiring one new site as well as finalising a recent property investment club’ – so it appears there is as yet no LLP up and running that the FSA could put under the microscope.’
What land with planning permission in Kent are you offering? Also is Claremont Forbes (Margate Kent) LLP up and running.
‘But unless those investors know what they are doing, and perhaps have some knowledge of planning and development, and land values, it is hard to see the attraction. And with Claremont Forbes itself anticipating a battle with the FSA, it is easier to see the downside and decide to steer clear.’
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
See also this earlier post.
Quote above from Fine Wine Vintners website.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Four years ago the prices for Bordeaux's last exceptional vintage, 2005, seemed quite extraordinarily audacious and we thought we would never see their like again. In the event, the embryonic, unbottled 2009s have been offered at prices between 50 and 100% up on 2005 opening prices, and some are even approaching 2005 current prices.'
Read the rest here.
Apparently sales to the UK have been 'massive'. How far this is for resale to Asia-Pacific remains to be seen but it is clear that a number of traditional UK buyers of en primeur have not bought this year due to the high prices. I suspect that a substantial amount of sales to the UK have been for investment. It remains to be seen how far it will be possible to sell these stock on, so generating the returns investors expect.
Also story on decanter.com on record UK 2009 en primeur sales and indicating that the Asia pacific did buy 2009s but solely at the top end:
'The story from Farrs is the same. Browett said Far East customers were responsible for more than a third of value sales, but a tiny proportion of volume.
'Sales by value have been 60% UK, 40% Far East, but by volume it's about 85% to 15%, as Far East customers have mainly bought only First Growths and "super-seconds".'
He added, 'There has been virtually no interest from the USA.''