Wine Name:

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

BBC London Inside Out – wine investment scams

This is now on the BBC iplayer.

I'm delighted to see fraudulent and dubious wine investment companies under the media spotlight and I thought the report was well done. However, my suggestion that the police are not doing enough needs clarification.  

The programme said I thought the 'police were not doing enough'. They didn't use a direct quote and while this is fair comment overall I did say that I was pleased to see current investigations by The Met, City of London police and the investigations by Hertfordshire police.

It was interesting that the anonymous interviewee claimed that Kai Seale was only the front man for Seale Wines Ltd and that it was actually run by someone else. If this is correct who was actually running the company and how many other companies does this shadowy person run?


Following the Inside Out programme I have been contacted by Jeremy Marshall of Irwin Mitchell (details here):

'I am a litigation partner in Irwin Mitchell.  If you have not had any lawyers contacting you already, it is likely that you will do so to suggest that you may want to let the victims know that a bit of collective redress may be possible.  Two immediate issues arise - firstly, there may well be a cause of action against the director as well as against the company and, secondly, there may be issues to confront re a stay of civil proceedings pending criminal.  It is possible to seek judgments against both potential targets, bankrupt/liquidate them and ask office holders to investigate their affairs.  It should also be possible at a relatively early stage to get an order against defendants to disclose assets.  Depending on those assets, a third party funder may support a claim.  I would suggest a representative claim (where all claimants have to have the same interest).  There is also the possibility of a compensation order in future criminal proceedings.

If anyone wants to email me (Jeremy Marshall ) I would happily talk to people.'


I'm very happy to pass on Jeremy Marshall's message for information. Obviously anyone considering this legal avenue will want to decide for themselves whether this will be to their advantage or not.  


  1. Edited comment from anon:

    Dear Jim

    I must say bravo! This kind of quality substantive prime time television coverage is just what is needed to combat these crooks. I wonder if the bosses in Bromley gave their "openers" a break in their cold call dial-out schedule to watch it. Or did they say, "tonight lads we're just going to concentrate on the landbanking calls"!!!

  2. Dear Jim
    A company has to start somewhere, although I agree that Seale seem to be at fault, unlike other industries the price of wine is not set at a specific price, smaller companies have to purchase from larger ones and add a small mark up, as they would have to sell it for the price purchased without profit

    In your opinion how should these start up companies proceed without receiving your enmity and wrath,

    The anon above must have inside knowledge of those in Bromley to make such a precise and damning comment, it is a pious remark

  3. Anon. Might I suggest that you are starting from the wrong premise – if you can't offer wine at a competitive price then you shouldn't be offering wine as an investment or, if you do, then clients should be made aware that these wines can be purchased more cheaply elsewhere.

    In any case Seale Wines Ltd may not have faced this problem as it appears that they may well not have bought the wine they sold.

  4. Anon. I suspect that the first poster has noticed that the Bromely area is a popular location for wine investment companies.

  5. "if you can't offer wine at a competitive price then you shouldn't be offering wine as an investment or, if you do, then clients should be made aware that these wines can be purchased more cheaply elsewhere."

    Really Jim I have always been an advocate for you however I think this is comment is slightly over the top.

    I work in the wine industry and personally sold Lafite Rothschild 2008 for £2940 40% above the market value when it was first released now my clients are up hundreds of %.Last year late October Mouton Rothschild 2008 £5460 again up to £8000 by the end of November this is just a few examples. Yes I agree the mark up is high but in comparison to the returns it is seriously nothing and in fact Jim allows the business to get to the state where they can drop their prices.

    On the matter of advising clients they can buy it cheaper else where is in its self a serious lack of understanding simple business.

    Please enlighten us Jim but I don't see Barclays saying "come to us we've been proven to charge high prices but Lloyd's TSB down the road charge half as much"

    But right know people like me charging 40% above market value should be the least of a persons worries when investing in wine, when 60% of companies don't even buy the product and if they do they have it in an umbrella account and not in the clients name.

    However Jim I would like to hear of how you REALLY think start up firms in this industry can survive without putting a substantial mark up on the product?

  6. Anon. Thanks for your comment.

    I think you have to make a distinction between selling retail and specifically selling a wine for investment. In retail you can sell wine at whatever price you wish. When offering a wine for investment there ought to be transparency and not telling a customer that it is a great investment deal when you know you are well above the market price.

    Much obviously depends upon what the client is told. Your clients may decide that they will buy from you because a) you have the wine b) they are still confident of a return even though your price is higher than your competitors.

  7. So if that is the case Jim why tarnish people like me who are selling above the market value AND still making people money.

    When people mention you on the phone I actually sing your praises because if it weren't for you making the fraud in the market so public we would have even more "Bromley" idiots scamming the market.

    What I am trying to say Jim is you have to be realistic about this. Yes there is a high mark up and we advise a minimum of 5years to invest and most if not all our wines work off the mark up with in the first year.

    What is the problem behind that?

    1) Client made money

    2) Client owns wine outright

    My problem Jim is that I hear you to often NOW grouping people like me with these idiots.

    What I would like to know is how do you set us apart from the actual scamsters and shouldn't you be doing that anyway. To put a focus on those not buying wine or registering it in their clients names.

    I just think there is to much of a GENERAL focus rather than tackling what really matters right now?

  8. Anon. As I don't know who you are I'm unable to comment on the following:

    My problem Jim is that I hear you to often NOW grouping people like me with these idiots.'

  9. Anon. Your comments highlight the need for a code of conduct.

  10. Dear Jim
    You are splitting hairs, to be able in your words

    "In retail you can sell wine at whatever price you wish" and selling as an investment, the crux of the matter is that you do not agree or wish for wine to be sold as an investment

    Even 40% that the other person charges is nothing compared to what hedge fund managers take and in the end if the client makes a good profit and is sold good wine! what is the problem

    I think that although I respect what you are trying to do, you have been left behind by an in industry that is rapidly changing and you need to change your frame of reference

    Although you may have a fantastic knowledge about wines you are extremely limited on investments and that insecurity is now showing and how an investment operates,

  11. '"In retail you can sell wine at whatever price you wish" and selling as an investment, the crux of the matter is that you do not agree or wish for wine to be sold as an investment.'

    Come on anon! This is an old canard. Yes in an ideal world all wine would be drunk and not used as a financial instrument. I'm not alone here:

    'Parker, who pioneered the 100-point rating scale, has long railed against using wine for either investment or show-and-tell purposes.' Slate 2007

    However, I have always recognised that wine investment exists and that currently with prices of certain climbing rapidly it has an obvious attraction.

    Whatever trimmings of sophistication you want to embellish wine investment with, it remains a simple process. Buy the right wine, at the right price and from the right (ie reliable) source.

    In these current superheated times your clients may make money buying from you at 40% above the lowest market price – possible only on a very limited range of wines. Had they bought more cheaply elsewhere these clients would have made an excellent profit rather than a merely 'good' one.

  12. leave bromley alone you monster