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Monday, 13 February 2017

Montevino Partners Mark 2: briefly active + Michael Moore jailed + MVP 'Mark 3' promises 'safeguards'!!

Thomas Roger White Montevino Partners 
Montevino Mark 2
'We try to do things a little different here at Montevino.' Thomas White 

Thomas White: details of two of his five companies – 
Spirited Ventures Ltd and Montevino Partners Ltd 
– both trading as Montevino Partners 


Debts incurred by Spirited Ventures Ltd: £691,326.93
including £155,694.15 to HMRC
£233,177.16 – trade & expense creditors 
 inc £210,601.92 to Clarendon Hills.
Thomas White director's loan – £208,869
Statement of affairs signed by White

 Stock of wine  – 'uncertain' !! 

Following the compulsory winding up in London High Court in August 2016 of Spirited Ventures Ltd trading as Montevino Partners, a second company – Montevino Partners Ltd – took over the Montevino Partners' trading name. Unfortunately I have to report that Montevino Partners Ltd is too apparently headed for liquidation. To date any deficit is not known. However, it is evident that a number of clients have yet to receive wine for which they paid in full. In some cases losses may run into six figures. 

Not to be discouraged Thomas Roger White, the sole director of Montevino Partners Ltd is now looking to launch another limited company – the MVP Wine Club. The plan is to run wine events which will be so profitable that clients' losses incurred by investing in wine through Montevino Partners will be rapidly repaid – perhaps within two years.

On 2nd May 2016 I posted – The Mysteries of Montevino Partners – on investdrinks covering the company's history to date and the then forthcoming fraud trial of Michael Moore. Although not a director Moore was a significant presence at Montevino as their senior wine advisor, although he did not feature on the Montevino Partners' website as one of their wine experts. There was no mention of Moore on the Montevino Partners' site.

Michael Moore – an update
Following a trial
at Maidstone Crown Court that started in mid-November 2016, Michael Moore was found guilty of fraud on 8th December 2016. The verdict was unanimous. The fraud charges related to previous investment companies (not wine related) that Moore had been involved in. There were no charges involving Montevino Partners. On 19th January 2017 Moore was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Interestingly Thomas White claimed in an email to Action Fraud, following complaints from clients of Montevino Partners who have not received their wine, that he hadn't been aware until recently of the seriousness of the charges against Michael Moore. Their seriousness had recently 'popped up'.... 

I can only assume that White had not read the Kent-on-Line report on the pending case (15.4.15). 'Due to the severity of the alleged offences the case was transferred to the town's crown court where both men will appear on May 1. No pleas were entered.'   
  
By early May 2016 White was certainly well aware that Moore was facing fraud charges as he responded to my post (2.5.2016) on Montevino Partners. 

Mr White appears to have an interesting take on the seriousness of a fraud charge.

There are a number of questions that need to be asked about Michael Moore's time at Montevino Partners. These include what exactly was his role and when did he cease to be involved, did he place orders for wine and did he liaise with bonded warehouses. Furthermore when did White become aware of the fraud charges against Moore and how and to what extent did White, as sole director, supervise Moore's work, especially given that Montevino was seeking to persuade clients to invest their money in wines proposed by the company. It appears that Michael Moore may well have made absurdly high profit claims along with the possibility that such profits could be realised in just six months.


The continuing history of Montevino Partners:
This should be read in conjunction with my earlier post on The Mysteries of Montevino Partners. 


Following the compulsory winding up in London High Court of Spirited Ventures Ltd trading as Montevino Partners, a second company – Montevino Partners Ltd – took over the Montevino Partners' trading name.

Spirited Ventures Ltd (incorporated 19.7.2013) goes bust and is then wound up in the High Court.  
On 26th July Spirited Ventures Ltd went into liquidation. Ninos Koumettou of Alexander Lawson Jacobs, Winchmore Hill, London N21 3NA was appointed director. In the statement of affairs Thomas White, as the sole director in place, listed the company's assets and debts as:  


Assets: £200 – stock of wine: 'uncertain'!

Spirited Ventures' deficiency:£691,326.93 

     
The main creditors were listed as Trade & Expense owed £233,177.16 and £155,694 to HMRC (UK tax authorities)  plus a director's loan of £208,869 from White. Australian wine producer Clarendon Hills in for £210,601 was the largest trade creditor. Very curiously Thomas White did not list any private clients as being owed wine in the statement of affairs, which he drew up and signed. 

This is particularly curious as stocks of wine are listed as 'uncertain'. Furthermore a number of clients were owed substantial amounts of wine

These included DL, a private client who had bought £44,292 worth of wine through Michel Moore which had not been delivered to the bonded warehouse, despite sending solicitor's letters to the company demanding delivery. White was certainly aware that DL had not received this wine as he responded to an email that DL sent to him on 15th March 2016:  

'To: DL

Hello Mr L.

Thank you for your comments, sorry to hear you feel this way, And I assure you not our intention to provide our services this way. Just picked up your email, Please let me look into what has happened and why no progress has been made with your sale request.

Kind regards, Speak soon. Tom'



DL heard no more from White, so he is instructed his solicitors to write a Pre-action Protocol Letter of Claim to Thomas White. This letter that detailed the outstanding wines was sent – by email and by post – on 8th April 2016. Despite this solicitor's letter DL was not included as a creditor of Spirited Ventures Ltd in White's statement of affairs (26.7.2016). 
 

Client AC was another. They had invested just over £100,000* – their entire life savings. There were also other private clients who had not received their wine. 
(* 5.3.17: it appears that these wines were bought through Montevino Partners Ltd rather than Spirited Ventures Ltd. AC has yet to received their wines although these are understood to have been bought between March, May and June 2016. Some £76,000 of the £100K was apparently supposed to have been purchased in barrel from a Barolo producer – the client placed and paid for the order in June 2016. Unfortunately the producer concerned has confirmed that no such order was ever placed for this wine by Montevino Partners Ltd.     

Because Thomas White did not list any private clients, those private clients, who were owed wine, were not informed of the creditors' meeting... There were only three creditors at the 26th July meeting – one of them being White due to his director's loan.


Why did White not list these clients as creditors of Spirited Ventures? It surely can't have slipped his mind! One has to suspect that either White knowingly made a false statement of affairs (26.7.2016) or he failed to ascertain the true number of creditors and the true level of debt before signing and submitting the statement of affairs.  

I have asked White why wine not delivered to private clients of Montevino Partners was not included in the statement of affairs for Spirited Ventures Ltd. White has yet to provide any explanation.  

It may well be that Thomas White, although the sole director after 28th May 2014, played a minor role in the first version of Montevino Partners.   

I trust that the liquidator, Ninos Koumettou of Alexander Lawson Jacobs, once apprised that there were other creditors not listed on the statement of affairs, has demanded a full explanation from Thomas White.    

At the meeting held on 26th July 2016 at the offices of Alexander Lawson Jacobs 'creditors were told that a company, Montevino Partners Ltd, a company also controlled by the director Mr Thomas White had expressed an interest in the miscellaneous equipment, website and goodwill of the company'.      

Compulsory wind-up
Understandably HMRC were unhappy at being owed £155,000 and successfully petitioned in London's High Court to have the company wound up. The petition (presented 30.6.16) wasn't contested and the order to wind up was made on 15th August 2016.

The rise and apparent fall Montevino Partners Ltd 
Montevino Partners Ltd was incorporated on 17th April 2014. The accounts to 30th April 2015 were for a dormant company with the first active accounts made up to 30th April 2016 when the company made a small loss of £6360. 

What I wonder was the purpose of setting up Montevino Partners Ltd as a dormant company in April 2014. White told me in May 2016 that 'we bought Spirited Ventures Ltd' from Martin Edgerton Gill and John Jeffrey. Although Jeffrey was the original director when the company was set up in July 2013, the firm's capital was just £1. There is no evidence at Companies House of Gill ever being a director or shareholder of Spirited Ventures Ltd.  

White became a director of Spirited Ventures Ltd on 19.5.2014 and Jeffrey resigned on 28.5.2014.

On 4th May 2016 I asked White where was the evidence that Gill was either a director of a shareholder of the company. I have yet to receive a response.  
 
Montevino Partners Ltd seamlessly became Montevino Partners. The website, which was registered on 9th January 2014, remained largely the same. There was certainly no indication that the original company had gone into liquidation with debts probably well in excess of £800,000.


Website promoted their 'expertise': 'Wine Investment Specialist', 
'have the platform and the guidance', 'improve our service'.

Unfortunately it appears that the second version of Montevino Partners will be short lived with Montevino Partners Ltd is set to be put into liquidation by Tom White with an unknown level of debt.

The MVP Wine Club – 'flying pig territory'
However, not to be downhearted Thomas White is now preparing a third version of Montevino Partners, although the name is 'open to discussion'. White has presented his 'Business Plan for the resurrection of of the fine wine platform' to private creditors of Montevino Partners Ltd inviting them to invest in the new venture as a way of getting their money back. A business proposal was sent out by Tom White at the beginning of February 2017 to a number but not all of the clients of Montevino Partners


MVP Wine Club is intended to be a mix of wine events, wine retail, imports and to offer advice as well as a fine wine platform. There is mention of 'a collective wine portfolio' worth some £1.5 million. 


Amazingly White has projected sales of £1.7 million in 2017 (or Year 1)*, £1.96 million in 2018 (Year 2) and £2.05 in 2019 (Year 3). Gross profit in Year 1 is estimated at £406,081, £606,744 (Year 2) and £558,800 (Year 3). 
 
White's remuneration for producing this remarkable success story will be £84,500 in 2017, £53,500 in 2018 and £36,000 in 2019 – totaling £174,000 over the three years. White has subsequently suggested that his remuneration in the first year could be cut to £60,000.

Some private investor clients of Montevino Partners are sufficiently angry to have filed complaints with Action Fraud. Others, however, praise White for sticking around and attempting to find a solution to recoup the losses incurred through the first two companies that traded as Montevino Partners. 


MVP is surely flying pig territory. There is nothing in Thomas White's history as a director to show that he is capable of running a successful company and with five company directorships he has had some practice....:

Spirited Ventures Ltd: bust and then wound up in London's High Court. White has claimed that it was Michael Moore's pending fraud trial that sunk the company and that previously
Montevino Partners was ’a good firm early on and was doing some good stuff’ and 'Montevino's first 18 Months were very good'. This is not borne out by the sole set of accounts filed for Spirited Ventures Ltd. The accounts to 31.7.2014 showed a loss of £165,000 with £188,069 owed to yourself as a director’s loan. The accounts were filed in White's name.
Wine Genie Ltd: Dormant company – first accounts overdue since 9th January 2017
8 Wine Club Ltd: no accounts filed – compulsory strike off.
Influx Global Ltd: dissolved no accounts or annual returns filed.
Montevino Partners Ltd: looks to be headed for liquidation.

I fear any of Montevino Partners clients, who do invest in White's new venture, will only be throwing good money after bad.

Instead the troubled history of  Monetvino Partners should be fully investigated by the Insolvency Service.
In particular why was the statement of affairs for Spirited Ventures Ltd signed off by Thomas White incomplete at best as no private creditors were listed and what happened to the money that investors paid to Montevino Partners but have received no wine.

 

8 comments:

  1. Jim,

    I have to comment, as once again you are destroying more peoples lives.
    I fully admit we got the call to support Michael during his charge, was in hindsight the wrong decision for the board and myself.
    But our understanding of the seriousness of that charge was underestimated, the reputational damage you have single handedly done to Montevino had led us to financial collapse, and financial ruin of the shareholders and myself and potential losses to our clients, hope your pleased with yourself.
    As previously discussed with you the changes required from SVL to MPL, these are well documented and it was voluntary done, not high court as you suggest there was a mix up granted. The Ideas and plans to do other enterprises like the Wine club and retail site called Wine Genie were derailed by the fact we came under fire.
    I am not perfect as my clients know, I have made mistakes and I'm human but to publish a PB that is confidential must be breaking some legal rules, As I did not send you this.
    The NewCo we wish to form is to be customer led and put right the wrongs that happened to Montevino, believe it or not we had a good firm early on and was doing some good stuff until the press of my employee's past caused this.
    I tried to engage with you but your obnoxious behaviour angered me.
    But you are now potentially going to kill any attempts the clients and I make to rescue this, and I feel thats unfair to the clients and me. If this is not posted as a comment then we know that your integrity is in question, I hope not.

    Tom White

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    Replies

    1. Tom

      Thank you for your response and your email to me today (14.2.17)

      You accuse me in the email of slander. Slander relates to the spoken word while libel to the written.

      You accuse me of destroying/ ruining the reputation of Montevino Partners. However, apart from attempting to shift the blame for the failure of both Spirited Ventures Ltd and now Montevino Partners Ltd you have provided no instances of inaccuracies in my post, very largely based on documents filed with Companies House.

      However, I am certainly prepared to amend anything in the post that is inaccurate.

      You claim you were not aware of the full seriousness of the charges against Michael Moore. However, as sole director at this time it was your responsibility to ascertain the seriousness of the charges that Moore faced, especially as Montevino Partners was seeking to persuade clients to invest in wine with doubtless many cashing in other savings and investments to pay for wine that in some cases has still not been delivered.

      I believe in one instance a client of Montevino Partners has had their entire life savings of over £100,000 wiped out. Your company failed to buy this wine – it wasn’t myself. What happened to this money?

      You suggest that my coverage of Spirited Ventures Ltd being wound up in the High Court in July 2016 on petition of HMRC is somehow inaccurate. How so?

      You did indeed email me in May 2016 following my first post on Montevino Partners. Your response claimed that Spirited Ventures Ltd originally belonged to ‘Martin and John’ and that ‘we had purchased’ it from them. There is no record at Companies House that Martin was ever a director or shareholder of Spirited Ventures Ltd.

      John Jeffries did incorporate Spirited Ventures Ltd on 19.7.2013 with £1 share capital. You were appointed director on 19.5.2014 and Jeffries resigned on 28.5.2014.

      You also claimed Montevino Partners was not a dormant company but instead was active from November 2014:

      Thomas White: ‘Montevino Partners Limited was registered straight away as we wanted to protect the name at first, but we use MPL as our retail sales outlet and is not dormant as from November 2014 we have held our premises licence and our barclaycard facilities, we have changed offices at end of 2015 and the premise licensing has been reapplied to new premises, I believe we may be late filling our accounts.’

      If this was the case why were accounts to 30th April 2015 for a dormant company (Montevino Partners Ltd) filed in your name with Companies House on 11th January 2016?

      On 4th May 2016 I sent you an email covering these and other points but have yet to receive a response.

      Part of my email of 4th May 2016:

      ‘You say that Montevino Partners Ltd was not dormant from November 2014. However, please see attached the accounts to 30th April 2015 filed with Companies House on 11th January 2016 signed by Thomas White. Your next accounts to 14th April 2016 are due by 12th May 2016.

      I can find no record at Companies House of Martin Egerton Gill ever being a director or a shareholder of Spirited Ventures Ltd or Montevino Partners Ltd. I would be very grateful if you could please let me know where I can find confirmation that Gill owned Spirited Ventures Ltd.’

      You now claim that Montevino Partners was ’a good firm early on and was doing some good stuff’. This is not borne out by the sole set of accounts filed for Spirited Ventures Ltd. The accounts to 31.7.2014 showed a loss of £165,000 with £188,069 owed to yourself as a director’s loan. The accounts were file din your name.

      What was the actual deficiency for Spirited Ventures Ltd when it went into voluntary liquidation in July 2016? Why were private creditors not included?

      There are substantial wine orders yet to be delivered to clients of Montevino Partners, what happened to private clients money please?

      What expertise and experience do you have in organising wine events and wine retail that will enable The MVP Wine Club to turnover £1.7 million in its first year.

      I look forward to your response.

      Delete
    2. Tom White: 'I tried to engage with you but your obnoxious behaviour angered me.'

      Do you mean that my email of 4.5.2016 was obnoxious because I queried claims you made about Montevino Partners.

      Incidentally comments on this blog are moderated and your comment above was published as soon as I saw it.

      Delete
    3. 'the reputational damage you have single handedly done to Montevino had led us to financial collapse'

      What nonsense! My posts have largely been based on information freely available from Companies House. I have properly reported on the affairs of a wine investment company, which has failed to supply wine to some of its investment clients. A company that chose to continue to employ Michael Moore though he faced charges of fraud arising from a previous investment company.

      Tom White now talks of putting safeguards in place for The MVP Wine Club – Montevino Partners Mark 3. Such safeguards should have been in place from the very beginning.

      Delete
  2. Regarding the 'resurrection' business plan I would remind you that I have not signed any confidentiality agreement with you or your companies.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have invited Tom White to tell me what is inaccurate in the posts about Montevino Partners. To date I have had no response.

    ReplyDelete
  4. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/notice/2757396

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    Replies
    1. We await the next phoenix company. Will Tom White make a full declaration of all creditors this time making sure that all individual creditors are listed?

      Delete