Wine Name:

Thursday 11 February 2010

Templar Vintners and Boss Vintners:

Templar Vintners: two arrests made;
Brent Liberal Democrat councillor Templar’s company secretary
On Thursday 4th February Hertfordshire police arrested Benedict Moruthoane and Andrew Griffiths at the London offices of Templar Vintners Ltd. On Saturday 6th February they were charged at Hatfield Magistrates Court with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and were remanded in custody. 

Although Templar Vintners Ltd did not start trading until the second half of 2009, its website claims that it is ‘the leading merchants of fine and rare wines’. On 22nd January 2010 the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC) issued a warning against Templar Vintners over a false claim that it was authorised by GFSC to run a wine fund. (See also here and here.)

Griffiths is the sole director of Templar Vintners Ltd and was appointed on 30th June 2009. James Allie was appointed company secretary on the same day. Allie is the Liberal Democrat councillor for the Alperton ward in Brent.  Allie does not list his appointment as company secretary of Templar Vintners Ltd on the Brent Council register of members’ financial interests.   

I tried to contact Allie for comment but received no direct reply, although Brent Council’s Liberal Democrat office manager did pass on the following response from Allie: “I haven’t been contacted by the police about this matter.” 

I was also in touch with the Brent Council press office, who subsequently contacted Allie. In his response Allie said that he had become company secretary of Templar Vintners Ltd because he was godfather to Moruthoane’s children and had taken on the work without payment. (Work done by councillors without payment does not need to be registered.) Allie said that the company had not started trading when it was raided by the police. 

Allie would appear to be misinformed here. Contacts through indicate that Templar Vintners started trading in the second half of 2009 – most likely in September or October. It is also clear from Andrew Griffiths comments posted here on 25th January 2010 that Templar Vintners had been trading in 2009.

Boss Vintners’ bogus awards 
Moruthoane is a director of Boss Vintners, based in Johannesburg and founded in 2004. Initially called Voodoo Diamonds, the company name was changed 31st August 2005 with Moruthoane appointed director on 22nd July 2005. Boss Vintners claims to ‘the world’s leading fine wine merchants’. 

On its website Boss Vintners (Company Profile section) claims to have won awards from Decanter magazine, The International  Wine Challenge (Wine magazine) and from the Which? Wine Guide. From Decanter Boss claimed to have won the Bordeaux Specialist UK Wine Merchant of the Year" (Decanter Magazine) 2004/2005 and Fine Wine Specialist UK Wine Merchant of the Year" (Decanter Magazine) 2004/2005. These claims are entirely bogus. Decanter had no retailer awards in 2004 or 2005. The DWWA retailer awards started in 2007 and Boss Vintners has never won any Decanter retailer awards. 

Nor are the International Wine Challenge award claims true as Chris Ashton, event director of the International Wine Challenge says:  “Bordeaux merchant in 2004 was Farr Vintners and the Fine and Rare Merchant didn't exist in 2003! They are not the correct logos any way, they don't have dates on them so they are completely fraudulent as well!!”

Equally the claim to have won the 'Fine Wine Specialist Award" (The Which? Wine Guide) 2004' is also bogus: there was no The Which? Wine Guide 2004 published.  

In June 2009 Moruthoane was charged with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering in relation to International Wine Commodities Ltd, where he was a director. The case is due to be heard at St Albans Crown Court with the trial starting on 7th June. Moruthoane has pleaded not guilty.


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