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Friday, 3 August 2012

Any regulatory body for wine investment has to be independent

Some thoughts on moves to set up a regulatory body for wine investment:  

An extract from my editorial in the July 2012 issue of Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers

'In the UK wine investment remains unregulated so companies are able to make claims like this – ‘10% return per month’ ‘existing clients up to 100% per year tax free!’ (see below). If wine investment fell under the aegis of the Financial Services Authority such claims would not be allowed.

The bait of 100% a year tax-free from Vintage Wine Investors Ltd. The above scheme looks as though it might be a collective investment, so subject to FSA approval

There are moves to form a regulatory body for wine investment, ‘to combat an influx of bogus sellers and prevent company collapses’, as most recently reported in The Independent

In principle I am all in favour of trying to protect the public and to restrain and preferably weed out the many dubious and unskilled companies that have jumped on to the wine investment bandwagon. Some sort of regulatory control could be very beneficial. Any body that helped potential investors to distinguish between properly-run companies and boiler rooms, often located in Bromley, would certainly be welcome.

It is, however, crucial that any sort of regulatory body is truly independent and should be independently administered. Otherwise it is all too easy for it to be seen as a cosy cartel and open to legal challenge for anti-competition. It is also essential that any regulatory body should have broad support from the fine wine trade.

The article in The Independent indicates one of the main movers in creating this new regulatory body is Peter Shakeshaft of Vin-X. Unfortunately Shakeshaft has had his problems with the Financial Services Authority. He was a director in stockbrokers Wills & Co, which was censured by the Financial Services Authority. See here and here.

Wills & Co went into administration (voluntary arrangement) on 5th August 2010. It was subsequently put into compulsory liquidation at the High Court on 1st July 2011 following a petition by the Insolvency Service on 6th June 2011.

I repeat, it is crucial that any regulatory body is independently formed and administered.'


  1. Those links don't tell the whole story - one doesn't work and the other doesn't make mention of Shakeshaft, who was the managing director/owner of the firm. These perhaps tell the story of the man a little better,

    Perhaps potential investors should know who is setting up their regulatory body?

  2. Thanks for your comment anon and for the links in particular the link through the fools board to the FSA final notice of a statement of misconduct to Darren Lansdown of Wills & Co.

    Incidentally the links in the post do work. There was a problem with one of them that I fixed soon after I posted.

  3. Hi jim, those links aren't working

  4. Anon. Well that is curious as the three links work for me in Safari, Chrome and Firefox. I will add the actual links to the post tomorrow.

  5. Hi Jim the 4 links posted by anonymous about vin-x and shakeshaft do not work. I would like to see where these links go so can you sort this out please. Many thanks.

    1. Anon. Links in the comment section do not link up. It is a question of copying and pasting into your browser.

  6. My word. Those links are shocking. I presume you'll be putting vin-x on your naughty list!

  7. Hi jim you can easily make those links work. This is a blog site, lots of people have them and everyone knows that you can easily make links work if you want to. Many people don't know how to cut and paste so it would be helpful if you enable those links.

    1. Anon. As I have already pointed out the links on the post work. As far as I know it isn't possible on blogger comment to make a link work. On other blogger packages it is.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Hi Jim
    1. Vintage Wine Investors operates from the same address as Vine capital are they connected

    I Think they are one and the same

  10. Remove the stuff on bad links its detracting from the key issue of Peter Shakeshaft

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Jim

    I think Peter Shakeshaft has been reading Machiavelli, by shouting the loudest and throwing attention away from his own company and trying to build credibilty by articles in the independent so his salespeople can have an air of legitimacy which cannot exist for such a new company, or a director who basically was done by the FSA

    Makes me laugh

  13. Jim, You surprise me !

    It seems on the one hand you want regulation and on the other critise attempts to bring it in ! Is it because you have got nowhere and now wish to critic anybody that dare try ? It is very personal toward me for your comments to be considered constructive.

    After a recent meeting with the WSTA to discuss self regulation it is clear they do not intend to go further on the matter.

    The FSA will not ! Can you imagine the French agreeing to that ? ( some of the other reasons FSA regulation will not work are in a previous blog on this matter).

    For he record firms involved in this initiative believe we SHOULD have independent self regulation as soon as practicable. By that we mean affordable, we mean that we need this initiative to be the De facto standard for the industry and we need jounalists to help in that endevour !

    Indeed when we publish the 'charter' you will note it is being drawn up by well respected City lawyers and City accountants !

    So Jim my advice is to keep your opinion to yourself for a little while and become informed. We intend to launch in the Autumn,'Pro Bono' work has and is still being undertaken by respected and dedicated proffesionals.. Some of whom you know and have discussed this with you. I think you will be pleasantly surprised !

    Now for your cheap shot about me ! Of course whilst your readers will understand that the FSA has publically censured many many people since the financial crisis began in 2008, IT HAS NOT ME ! I was NOT a director of 'stockbrokers " when it lost its license so that is incorrect. That said I did oversea the orderly 'wind down' of the Company and note that every penny (YES PENNY) and every share certificate was accounted for. With a turnover of over £100 million it should demonstrate to your readers that Wills systems and controls in dealing with clients assets were excellent

    What is factual is that the respected 'top five' accountancy firm Ernst and Young were appointed by the Group Board of which I was the CEO and were instructed to research much more thoughly the business model of Wills Stockbrokers and concluded that the FSA were incorrect in their findings ! But The FSA decided that Wills Stockbrokers and a great number of similar smaller independent broking houses in the City should be no more and discounted the indepth analysis of Ernst & Young.

    Remember if you want a detailed discussion on regulation I will happily meet you any time at a place of your choosing with independent people present and let them make a decision on the depth of each others knowledge ! My personel view is that because of my skill set in this area I can use that knowledge to positively help here !

    You are no doubt aware that I have had a number of interests in various company's over the years. In 2000 I held significant holdings in 18 publicly listed business's. I was aware from the outset that some will fail and some will succeed. Wills Group eventually failed and of course I am upset by what happened BUT its business principles were far far greater than that which I see in the wine industry today.

    Thats why Vin-X have introduced independent wine audits, recorded telephone calls, contract notes clearly stating our charging structure, analytical research, and above all that's why we beat the market by 11% last year ! Vin-X also conduct regular customer satisfaction surveys and act upon its findings. Do the Company's that you recommend Jim do ANY of these ? I believe we are the fastest growing wine investment business in the UK, we are opening up new markets and have excellent relationships with Liv-ex and all the major merchants.

    1. Comment above was posted by Peter Shakeshaft, who tried to post the comment under his own name. See next comment.

      I have been clear that if the WSTA wine investment guidelines were to be taken further, it was likely that it would come from companies involved in wine investment.

      With regard to being 'better informed' I told you back in late February that I would be happy to see your proposals. I'm still waiting. Down to you.

      In any case my comments were on general principle and not on the detail. I note that companies involved in the your proposed regulatory body 'believe we SHOULD have independent self regulation as soon as practicable'.

      My view is that any regulatory body should be independent from the beginning rather than being set up on a vague promise that it will be independent 'as soon as is practicable'.

  14. Again Jim I could not publish under my own name as your site did'nt seem to allow it. But it is Peter Shakeshaft. I guess you already guessed that !

  15. Edited comment: 'Obviously Peter Shakeshaft is finding it tough, how he can spend so much on Google ad-words and employ such an expensive advertising and marketing agency, and still have commission to pay wages staff and all, how does his own clients make money... with such high operating costs'

    1. I should make it clear that the comment above is not mine but an anonymous comment, which I edited bfore posting.

  16. It makes you wonder about the other companies involved in this regulation scheme. Do they not know about peter shakeshaft's past? Are they not worried about being dragged down with him? If the leader of their group has a history like this, how do we know that the companies involved in the regulatory bodies are legit? Just by association with shakeshaft these other companies are going to suffer, surely.

  17. Peter Shakeshaft would not have to sell wine if he ran Wills properly, if he is so eager for the correct running the wine industry, why did he run Wills into the ground and his sale staff like a boiler room, in fact one has written a book about boiler room sales at Wills & Co

    He is nothing but a pretentious windbag in my opinion just trying to ease his competition out the way!

    1. would be really interested to see this book, where can i find it??

    2. There is a listing for it on Amazon.

  18. If Peter Shakshaft is as good as he says, the FSA would not have closed Wills, there is no smoke without fire!!!!!!

    A lot of hot air, easy to blame others and circumstances, he should take a good look in the mirror

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Edited comment from anon.

      'Peter Shakeshaft would not have to sell wine if he ran Wills properly, In fact one has written a book about boiler room sales at Wills & Co. He is nothing but a pretentious windbag in my opinion.'

      I gather the book is called
      A Wideboy's Handbook: A Guerrilla Guide to Investment Sales [Paperback]by David R G Mason

      Amongst the company's Mason worked for was Wills & Co before setting up his own brokerage. He pleaded guilty to offences that related to Eduvest.

      Quote from article by Tony Hetherington in This is Money published on 18th June 2011.


      The Financial Services Authority won its first criminal conviction for boiler room fraud when City broker David Mason, 29, was jailed for two years on Tuesday.

      Mason, who was arrested by the City of London Police, pleaded guilty to cheating investors out of £270,000 by arranging for unlicensed offshore brokers to sell shares in bogus investment company Eduvest.

      In 2007 I warned that Mason, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, was behind fledgling broking firm Saha Mason, which acted as an agent for corrupt broker Pacific Continental Securities.

      He also worked for Bishopsgate Capital and Wills & Co Stockbrokers, both of which closed down after FSA investigations.

      Bizarrely though, Mason still appears on the FSA Register as an ‘approved person’ with no disciplinary history. The only clue to his imprisonment is that he is shown as ‘inactive’ – the description that’s applied to anyone who is between jobs.'

  20. The links about Peter Shakeshaft are interesting. These are instructive also.

    That relates to GHW(the initials of Grahame H Wills I may add) and Wall Street Investments which reference these two companies being investigated by the serious fraud office: Mainly in relation to the capital being raised for certain companies, one of them named Silicon Valley which Mr Peter Shakeshaft was a director of.

    See here

    this is also referenced in the disgraced banker link.

    From disgraced bankers link it would be nice to know the name of the boat Mr Peter Shakeshaft was stopped and fined in by Chichester police. Not Silicon Valley by any chance?

    Seeing as Mr Peter Shakeshaft has threatened some of your users on here with litigation , I'm surprised that a man accusing him in public of dodgy trading , drug taking and brokers fighting each other has not been sued by Mr Peter Shakeshaft.

    If these allegations are not true, why hasn't Mr Peter Shakeshaft started proceedings against this apparent ex employee of Wills and co?

    But apart from all that how can Darren Lansdown (former Wills and co director) who is currently not allowed to hold a managerial position in an independently regulated environment (FSA ruling) be allowed to hold his position of director and sales manager at Vin-X ?

    I will finish with the point about vin-x being set up to pay investors of Wills and co 250k in two years as stated by Tony Hetherington.

    As Vin-X were set up 2 years ago to repay 250k within 2 years, have they paid this back yet? If so can they post proof of this repayment on their site or on this site?

    Because if they haven't and can’t, can we assume that the Vin-X’s lifespan is now very limited?

    1. Anon. Am not sure how you can assume that Vin-X's life span will be short.

  21. Is this not the book they refer to?

  22. Guilt by association is a first order logical fallacy. As a student of financial markets and company structures its worth noting that Mr Shakeshaft was director of the Wills Group, not the stockbrokers. Perhaps he took his eye off the ball at Wills, but i think you struggle to show that his guilt extends any further than that.

    there are many MANY example one can show of smoke without fire

  23. Sounds similar to Bob Diamond at Barclay s Capital at least he resigned / was forced out

    The end result is the buck stops with the top..... taking his eye of is only a mitigating circumstance and does not exonerate him!!!!

    The more they defend Peter Shakeshaft the quicker he seems to go deeper into the mire a bit like falling into quicksand I think

  24. Edited comment from anon:

    The book is A Wideboy's Handbook: A Guerrilla Guide to Investment Sales [Paperback]by David R G Mason

    tells of his time selling at Wills and Co. Read it and laugh.

  25. Edited comment from anon:

    Funny how Peter Shakeshaft - entrepreneur and serial success story by his own account - has so much time to decorate blogs with his illiterate nonsense.

    "that's why we beat the market by 11% last year!" - so if you use the Liv-ex 100 as the benchmark for 'the market', then the market was down 17.28% in 2011. So am I correct in assuming your client portfolios were only down 6.28% last year?

    "...the FSA has publically censured many many people since the financial crisis began in 2008, IT HAS NOT ME ! I was NOT a director of 'stockbrokers " when it lost its license so that is incorrect." - whilst it may be FACTUALLY incorrect that you were a Director of Wills and Co. stockbrokers, is it not true that your role effectively meant you were in an authoritative position - if not the most authoritative position at the stockbrokers? For example, would any of the previous employees of Wills have considered you to be their 'boss'/senior? Did you personally make money from the stockbroking business and effectively from the missold shares? (I use missold as opposed to allegedly missold, as the FSA has provided sufficient clarity for that accusation.)

    The 25th May 2012 blog posting from David Mason seems to be the most damning evidence yet that Wills and Co. was a boileroom setup with a focus on personal gain rather than that of its clients, but also clearly indicates Mr Mason's feelings that the company was "HEADED" by Peter Shakeshaft.

    'Association Fallacy' - I spent little time wondering exactly who this anonymous blogger might be. Perhaps they should acknowledge that if you're at the top of the pile for a company that is consistently acting ILLEGALY, then you will not have a leg to stand on when it all comes crashing down. Shakeshaft can rattle off endless rhetorics slamming the FSA and their 'over-regulation', but until he realises that his Wills operated in a market GOVERNED BY THE FSA and that his opinion is irrelevant, people will continue to dress him down on various blogs. Let's all hope he doesn't 'take his eye off the ball' at Vin-x, for their investor's sake.

    I'm sure Shakeshaft will dodge the questions and offer a retort that serves only to split hairs and divert attention as he has done on numerous forums previously - this included. Or perhaps he will realise that silence is only marginally less incrimnating than verbally conceding and choose not to offer a riposte, but simply fade into the night as he did on The Motley Fool blog.

  26. I certainly agree with your points regarding the importance of any regulatory body being independent. You can't carry out the necessary tasks if you are not. This body needs to be a force that can help the industry as a whole, both investment companies and, perhaps more importantly, investors themselves.

  27. I couldn't agree more for some sort of body to regulate those touting the benefits of wine investment. However, too heavy handed and everyone suffers .. true. There is some interesting stories coming out of China at the moment and I think there will be a lot of angst over the way many wines have been pushed there as an investment.

  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  29. Amended comment by anon:

    'the fact heseems to know very little about wine, bleeting on about India tax reform -a uk merchant i use have been in China for 15 years before we got to see big surge in China- for a select few wines. To say India will be the next China is just massively overexagerated and optamistic.He just wants a regulatory body so everyone has to sing to his himsheet.'