Wine Name:

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Stephen Cleeve suspended as parliamentary candidate by UKIP

The Kensington & Chelsea Chronicle reports here that Stephen Cleeve has been suspended by UKIP as their parliamentary candidate for Kensington 'pending further investigations'.

The Chronicle reports incorrectly that Stephen Cleeve was 'involved with a whisky scam in Australia'. Cleeve certainly attempted to sell plots of land in the UK to Australians but not I think whisky.

Cleeve said: "I am not banned from being a company director." This is correct as his 8 year ban on being a UK company director ended on 7th February 2008.  

Cleeve told the Chronicle that "I am certain that further investigation will prove I have done nothing wrong and I look forward to clearing my name, and standing for parliament."

To clarify the situation regarding the closure of Forrester & Lamego Ltd in 1997 I checked the documents at Companies House. On 23rd July 1997 Forrester & Lamego Ltd was ordered by Mr Justice Robert Walker in London's High Court to be wound up under the provisions of the Insolvency Act 1986 following a petition by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry presented on 11th February 1997.

The judge also ordered that: 'the costs of the Petitioner of the said Petition including the costs of 14th February 1997 and 5th March 1997 be paid out of the assets of the said Company such Order as to costs to be without prejudice to the Petitioner's liberty to apply on notice for the costs of the Petition to be borne by Mr Cleeve (a director) personally'. 

At the hearings on 14th February and 5th March Stephen Cleeve and his lawyers had successfully fought off the DTI's initial attempts to close the company in the public interest.


8th April 2010: It appears from UKIP's site that Stephen Cleeve is no longer UKIP's candidate for Kensington. He has been replaced by Lady Caroline Pearson.

8th April 2010 22.25: An apparent change of mind as the message is now: We still haven't finalised our candidate to stand in Kensington. Find out how you can get involved in other ways, or donate by clicking  here.


Stephen Cleeve (on twitter  
Sadly business commitments have forced me to stand down as the UKIP candidate for Kensington, I wish Lady Caroline Pearson all the best.

Tony Hetherington in the Mail on Sunday (10th April 2010) devoted a whole page to Stephen Cleeve in the Money section.

13th April: It turns out that it is Lady Caroline Pearson, who is replacing Stephen Cleeve, but this time she has a fuller title that includes 'of Rannoch'.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Storage – may not be sexy but it is vital!

I suspect that many potential investors when contacted by a firm offering wine investments pay insufficient attention to where and how their wine will be stored. They are probably satisfied to be told that their wine will be in bond.  Some companies include insurance and warehouse charges in their prices – sometimes for three years and sometimes for five.

Many of these accounts are umbrella accounts. Also called customers' reserves. Here wines will be stored under customers' names but will be part of an umbrella account held by the wine company. This is a popular arrangement for both legitimate and less legitimate companies as the customer doesn't have the hassle of setting up their own account. However, this arrangement does have the serious drawback that the wine company can move wine out of your account without your permission and knowledge. Furthermore the bonded warehouse naturally takes instructions from the account holder – the wine company.

My advice is to open your own account with a bonded warehouse. This way you have full control over your wine.
There are links to some storage companies on the right hand side of this site.

A possible customers' reserves scam
There is nothing to stop a company selling you some wine, putting it into an umbrella account at one of the UK leading bonded warehouses and perhaps inviting you to check with the bonded warehouse that your wine is safely in customers' reserves. Once you are reassured the company might decide to remove your wine and either sell it without your permission and pocket the proceeds. Alternatively they might create a new company and move your wine into a new account set up in the new company name with no indication that this was once your wine. It is quite likely that you would not become concerned until you either decided to sell your wine or if the initial company disappears and you become concerned as you cannot contact them. By which time it is, of course, too late as your wine has disappeared along probably with the people running the scam.

I understand from a reliable source that the Metropolitan police are currently looking at around 20 wine investment companies.      

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Finbow Fine Wines Ltd: a further update 25th March 2010

 I understand that Paul Rees, director of Finbow, has a meeting with the police investigating Finbow and Nouveau World Wines Ltd on Monday. There would appear to be some hope that money that people paid into Finbow can be recovered. That may be clearer after Monday’s meeting.

Paul Rees remains convinced that Finbow has a viable business model. On the face of it, however, I have severe doubts. 

In view of the police investigation it is probably wise not to give further details, although this may be possible after Monday. 

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Finbow Fine Wines Ltd – update 24th March 2010

I have received a number of messages over the last couple of days about Finbow. I have just spoken to Paul Rees, the company's director, and I will be posting an update on the situation regarding Finbow as soon as possible. In the meantime I'm assured by Paul Rees that he is answering the Finbow, although at times it may be necessary to send a text message.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The curious case of Mouton-Rothschild – Cult Wines Ltd and SP Worldwide

I have a decidedly curious tale to tell.

On Friday 5th I received the following message from BZ:

'I have been contacted unsolicited recently by a company called SP World wide purporting to offer an investment in Mouton Rothschild 2008. On checking them out I note that they are registered in Spain and not the UK and the wine would be stored at "Cult Wines Ltd" in Kingston Upon Thames. I have also checked out Cult Wines and they appear to be a recently UK registered outfit (Company no. 6350591).

Today I have received an invoice direct from Cult Wines for one case of 12 at £3656.25 although I have never agreed to purchase!

I am sending the invoice back to Cult Wines saying that I have not agreed to any purchase and I want immediate cancellation.

Your opinion and whether you have heard of these people would be appreciated

I understand from BZ that although he agreed to the salesman from SP Worldwide sending him information he had made it clear that he was not interested in buying any wine from the company. BZ wrote to Cult Wines Ltd on 5th March informing them that he had not ordered the wine, would not making any payment and was returning the invoice.

Followers of this blog will aware that I have had some contact with the Gearings, who run Cult Wines Ltd. I emailed Oliver Gearing asking what the relationship was between Cult Wines Ltd and SP Worldwide and why would Cult Wines Ltd issue an invoice on their behalf? I attached a copy of the invoice removing BZ's name and address.

I received the following response from Oliver Gearing:

'I'm afraid that is extremely distressing and is an obvious attempt to once again cause trouble for our reputation. I and no one at Cult Wines has sent  this, so I assume that someone has taken 70% of what we send out, doctored an invoice page and caused us some more trouble with yourself.

There is no contract, agreement, verbal or written, payments or signatures signed to anything to do with whoever these people are and I will sue anyone who says we do including this so called company. If you print doctored documents on your website about us and cause us more harm you will simply be playing into the hands of jealous competitors who are annoyed by our web presense on, our connections and prices.

I hope that you understand we do not go around handing out invoices to whoever feels like working with us!

Don't you think its a bit suspicous that they included new fields on the invoice that make no sense?'

I undertand from BZ that within a few minutes of me emailing OG, Cult Wines Ltd attempted to phone him. The following day (6th March) SP Worldwide phoned BZ on some five occasions trying without success to contact him. Cult Wines also called again leaving this message:

"Hello BZ this is Cult Wines we would like to speak to you about information which has been forwarded to us by a journalist called Jim Budd, which we believe was sent to you by an agent which we work with. We would like to talk to you before we enter into a legal dispute and would appreciate if you could call us back on 020 85474127 - thank you"
On 9th March BZ received a letter (sent 8th March) from Aarash Ghatineh of Cult Wines Ltd. 'I am very concerned to hear that you received this invoice which was not authorised or sent by anyone at Cult Wine Ltd.' BZ was assured that 'We do not charge 25% sales tax and the price for Mouton Rothschild 2008 is 2,925 a case. This includes storage and insurance.''I hope you understand that we will be following the matter up with the company mentioned and we never has any order reserved for you or by anyone else.'

The envelope containing the 8th March letter from Cult Wines Ltd and the one containing the invoice (4th March) allegedly not sent by Cult Wines Ltd were both franked by the same franking machine.

I asked Oliver Gearing about this and received the following reply:

'With  regards to the franking the answer is quite simple, we work inside an office containing over 150 different businesses or so I believe. Anyone could have sent that within this building. I am certainly not implicating anyone though.' 
As I said a rather curious tale.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Stephen Cleeve to stand as MP for Kensington

According to a report in Thursday's Kensington & Chelsea Chronicle, the entrepreneurial Stephen Cleeve will be standing for parliament at the forthcoming general election. I gather that he is the UKIP candidate for Kensington. 

Should Stephen Cleeve be elected to parliament I'm convinced he will be a model MP. Cleeve's election is not yet a certainty as he is standing against Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the current MP and a seasoned campaigner.  Rifkind's majority at the 2005 election was 12,418 with 57.9% of the votes cast. UKIP's candidate in 2005 polled 395 votes, while Sir Malcolm stacked up 18,144 votes. (However, see boundary changes below.*)

Although the odds would appear to be against Stephen Cleeve, were he to pull off one of the shocks of the forthcoming election, his experience in the drinks' trade – barrels of whisky, millennium Champagne and Port – could be extremely useful in the House of Commons.

Stephen Cleeve is able to think outside the box: he is the only man I know to have offered pipes of vintage character Port as an investment through his company – Forrester & Lamego Ltd, which was closed in London's High Court in the public interest in July 1997. Stephen Cleeve was also a director of the Napier Spirit Company, which offered barrels of malt whisky as an investment. The company was closed in the public interest in the High Court in February 1997. Stephen Cleeve was disqualified from being a UK director from 29.2.2000 to 7.2.2008.

Should Parliament consider relocating to a quieter, less congested agricultural area, Stephen Cleeve could advise his fellow MPs through his extensive experience in land banking through organisations and partnerships such as the European Land Sales Partnership and Commercial Land. The enterprising and entrepreneurial Mr Cleeve made a number business trips to Australian property shows around 2004/2005. Regrettably the states of Victoria and Western Australia both issued public warnings about Stephen Cleeve and his land banking companies.

Through an advert in vivastreet Cleeve has also been looking for investment opportunities in businesses:
'I am looking to invest in new growing business seeking £1,000 to £300,000.

I am renowned investor and was involved in successful advertising concepts in airports around the world. Also an innovative Champagne concept which cut out the greedy middle man in the wine trade and put customers direct to wine houses.

Other successful business that I have invested in: magazines, recruitment, publishing.’

 * Parliamentary boundary changes that come into force for the forthcoming general election split the old Kensington & Chelsea constituency into two: Kensington and Fulham & Chelsea. Although the new constituency of Kensington covers a significant part of the present Kensington & Chelsea constituency, there are new areas so the 2005 results can only be a rough guide.   

Stephen Cleeve's UKIP candidate's page is here

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Help offered from Grant Thornton's Fraud Insolvency Division

I have been contacted by Paul Pretlove of Grant Thornton's Fraud Insolvency Division. He suggests that it may be possible for this division of Grant Thornton to assist victims in recovering funds that have been lost to fraud.

I'm very happy to post the following details about their service. Obviously anyone interested needs to discuss their situation with Grant Thornton and decide whether this service suits their needs.    

"The Fraud Insolvency Division (FInD) at Grant Thornton UK LLP ( might be able to help you recover your position. Their fees are often conditional upon recovering the money and therefore you may not need to spend further money pursuing it.

FInD concentrate on recovering funds for the victims of fraud, unlike a criminal investigation that aims to secure a conviction. The two are not mutually exclusive and evidence gathered in the course of the civil action is often used in a subsequent criminal prosecution.

FInD is a national team with an international reach with a presence in all offshore financial centres. They have recovered the proceeds of fraud from many jurisdictions and are currently successfully recovering monies for victims of various investment scams, including off plan property developments, mortgage fraud and staged car accident scams, in the UK, Spain, Caribbean, Egypt, Canary Islands, the Middle East and other overseas jurisdictions.

They have a proven track record and sector expertise and are currently running over 600 fraud recovery related cases. They regularly work with various police fraud squads, the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Please do contact them at with any further enquiries."

Friday, 12 March 2010

Fine Wine Vintners Ltd – an update

Regarding my previous post on Global Fine Wine Ltd and the unauthorised use of material from the site of Bordeaux Index Ltd by GFW and Fine Wine Vintners Ltd, I am glad to see that FWV's site is down for maintenance:

'This site is currently down for maintenance.
Please contact us should you need any further information:
Fine Wine Vintners,
1 Berkeley Street,'

I assume this action is a result of the strong complaint from Bordeaux Index Ltd and trust that, if and when, the site is back up it will accurately portray Fine Wine Vintners Ltd as a recently formed company.

In contrast the site of Global Fine Wine Ltd regrettably is unchanged. 

22.3.2010: The Global Fine Wine Ltd site is also down for 'maintenance'.

Previous posts here and here.

Global Fine Wine Ltd - yet another meteoric rise!

From their website (

'As one of the UK’s leading fine wine traders we are ideally positioned to assist clients to identify and acquire wines with the greatest potential to appreciate. We combine financial discipline, market insight and wine knowledge to optimise returns.'

If this looks familiar you'd be right as it is identical to this – Fine Wine Vintners Ltd.

This text, however, has an older provenance than this as it has been lifted from the site of Bordeaux Index Ltd. Bordeaux Index Ltd was established in November 1996 and is well established as one of the UK's leading fine wine merchants and one of Europe's largest fine wine traders. 

I understand from Geriant Carter, who is in chrage of wine investments at Bordeaux Index, that both Global Fine Wine Ltd nor Fine Wine Vintners Ltd have used text from Bordeaux Index's website without the company's permission and knowledge. Bordeaux Index Ltd are currently taking steps to get the copied text removed from the two websites. Naturally the text is Bordeaux Index's intellectual property. 

Statement from Geriant Carter:
Our position:
We have not given Fine Wine Vintners or any other company permission to reproduce the material of Bordeaux Index. We have instructed FWV to remove all plagiarised text from their website and brochure, and that if they fail to act accordingly we will take legal measures to force them to do so.  

Similar action is being taken in relation to Global Fine Wine Ltd.

The company's brief history
Global Fine Wine Ltd was incorporated on 4th August 2009 as DC Trading Co (London) Ltd with its registered office at 117 Dartford Road, Dartford, Kent. The company name changed to Global Fine Wine Ltd on 6th January 2010 with the registered office address changing to 60 Cannon Street, London EC4N 6NP on 8th December 2009. Ross Tony Peters is the sole director. 60 Cannon Street is a serviced office address. Although the company is registered as Global Fine Wine Ltd, the website is called Global Fine Wines. 

My advice
As Global Fine Wine Ltd has no track record and appear to have used Bordeaux Index's intellectual property without permission I certainly would not buy wine from this company.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Fine Wine Vintners Ltd – another meteoric rise

I'm very impressed by how quickly a number of new companies have been able to establish themselves as movers and shakers in the fine wine sector. Take, for example, Fine Wine Vintners Ltd. From their website ( 

'As one of the UK’s leading fine wine traders we are ideally positioned to assist clients to identify and acquire wines with the greatest potential to appreciate. We combine financial discipline, market insight and wine knowledge to optimise returns.'

'Access to Rare Stock
We have established a network of negociants, merchants and traders throughout UK and Europe. These relationships give us the opportunity to secure and dispose of stock in as cost-efficient manner as possible. Quality Control The unfortunate reality is that the wine industry, like so many other luxury goods, is subject to counterfeit and the supply of inferior stock. To combat this we insist all our suppliers provide us with provenance and verification of all stock. All of our stock is subject to this process. Almost all the wines we trade are OWC (Original Wooden Cases).'

Fine Wine Vintners has the network of contacts throughout the UK and Europe to arrange the re-sale of your wines at a moments notice. Ordinarily, we advise our clients when to take profits or when we believe optimal yields have been achieved. Naturally, care and attention is taken in order to ensure that best prices are achieved. Structuring your Investment. How your portfolio is structured depends greatly on the size of your traditional investment portfolio and your net worth. Initial investment and the length of term of the hold are very important as it will determine what we can recommend to you. Fine Wine Vintners generally advises new clients to dip their toe in the market with anything from £4,000 to £25,000 for individual portfolio and £50,000 to £250,000 for an independent fund or collective investment portfolio.' 

Company history
Fine Wine Vintners Ltd was incorporated on 4th June 2009 as Fine Wine Investments Ltd. The company's name changed on 12th October 2009 to Fine Wine Vintnors Ltd and then changed (when someone realised that 'Vintnors' was a mispelling to Fine Wine Vinters on 16th November 2009. Again a mispelling but corrected on 24th November 2009, so company is currently registered as Fine Wine Vintners Ltd. The sole director is Bradleigh Anthony Caley, who has a Bromley post code. Their website mentions top Bordeaux wines as well as some top-end Australian wines.

My advice
Despite the claim to be 'one of the UK's leading wine traders' Fine Wine Vintners Ltd have no track record, so I would not buy wine from them, especially if they offer Bordeaux en primeur. Buying Australian wine for investment is a lot more speculative than top Bordeaux and certainly not a choice for a wine investment beginner.

If wine investment was regulated in the UK, then claims like 'as one of the UK’s leading fine wine traders' would have to have a more solid basis.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Careless words could cost you dear

Advice from Investment News here does not look too clever this weekend: Nouveau World Wines Ltd were raided by the fraud squad on Thursday (see here) and Morgan Aston Ford Ltd are facing the threat of being struck off – see below. MAF's accounts have been overdue since 24th April 2008 and the company return has been overdue since 4th February 2009.

Investments News - Thursday 2nd October 2008

Is fine wine investment a real alternative?
Thursday 2nd October 2008
Over the last twenty years or so there has been a great deal of interest in alternative investments with wine one of the more prominent additions to the conversation. But is wine investment really a reliable way to invest your money or is it a very specialised market to be wary of?

A quick look on the internet to see how many companies will actually help you to invest into wine and give you advice will show you how popular it is. In the eyes of some people it is seen as a hedge against falling markets and weak economies because fine wines will always attract interest from all corners of the globe. But do not just assume that wine prices go up and up because they don’t and like any other investment arena there are trends which come and go – if you get these wrong you could be in trouble!

So why not check out the array of wine investment guides on offer by clicking here with names such as Nouveau World Wines, Morgan Aston Ford and Aston Lovell all prominent in this sector. Do not forget, a fine wine may not just be for drinking!

From Companies House website (6.2.2010)
Morgan Aston Ford Ltd
Status: Active - Proposal to Strike off
Date of Incorporation: 07/01/2002
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Company Type: Private Limited Company
Nature of Business (SIC(03)):
5225 - Retail alcoholic & other beverages
Accounting Reference Date: 28/02
Last Accounts Made Up To: 31/03/2006 (TOTAL EXEMPTION SMALL)
Next Accounts Due: 24/04/2008 OVERDUE
Last Return Made Up To: 07/01/2008
Next Return Due: 04/02/2009 OVERDUE
Last Members List: 07/01/2008

02/03/2010 FIRST GAZETTE
21/07/2009 FIRST GAZETTE

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Nouveau World Wines Ltd: six arrested in wine investment scam

Six people were arrested today by fraud squad officers investigating a wine investment scam.
Two women aged aged 40 and 32 and four men aged 40, 65, 30 and 34 were held during raids in east and south east London. One of those arrested is understood to be 34 year-old Daniel Snelling.

The move came after Scotland Yard detectives were alerted to a large-scale specialist wine fraud. Investigators believe victims have handed over thousands of pounds to invest in specialist Australian wines. Once the money was taken the “investors” were told the wine had been laid down to increase in value as it aged, but it did not exist.

Detective Chief Inspector Robin Cross, who leads the fraud squad, said the arrests followed a lengthy inquiry, codenamed Operation Iceman.
The senior officer said: “This kind of investment fraud is becoming far too common. People from all economic backgrounds are being targeted and persuaded to invest in what appears to be a sound financial opportunity.

"We would advise those considering investing money, whether it be a small or large amount, to do their research and be sure that the companies or individuals they are dealing with are reputable and legitimate.”

The arrests were made at two business address and several homes in Docklands, Sidcup and Bexley. The six were being held at an east London police station on suspicion of money laundering offences.It is understoond that they have now (5th March) been released on police bail.

Set up in September 2004 Nouveau World Wines Ltd offered Australian boutique wines as an investment – often powerful Shirazes. Wines sold to investors included 2007 Molly Dooker Carnival of Love Shiraz, 2005 Two Hands Aphrodite and 2005 Greenock Creek Alice's Shiraz. 

As well as London offices Nouveau World Wines Ltd claimed to have offices in Hong Kong and Melbourne, Australia. 

On NWW's website, which has now been taken down, the company explained that: 'all the fine wines from Nouveau World Wines are sourced through out wine regions across the new world market, namely Australia, Argentina, California, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. Each vine yard comes with a good trading history in fine wine. The wines are mostly stored in reputable bonded warehouses in perfect storage conditions or stored at the original point of production within in the vine yard. Most wines are available in original wooden cases unless stated.'

Wine investment companies offering Australian wine have a poor history. Australian based Heritage Fine Wines and Wine Orb both collapsed spectacularly in 2005.   


This is a combined report sourced from a Press Association report by Chris Greenwood, Press Association's crime correspondent from story on Kent News ­
+ With my additions on 5th March 2010.


My comment 
So far the company involved has not been named nor have those arrested. I have, however, received a number of messages recently from concerned investors who had bought various Australian wines for investment and who were having difficulty contacting the company. 

I'm delighted to see further evidence that the police forces are now taking wine scams seriously. I remain amazed that so many people are prepared to invest in something they probably know little about from companies they know even less. It is not as though the sums are small I have been contacted by people who have written cheques for over £100,000 for wines that never existed – all on the basis of a cold call!
I'm particularly pleased to see police action in the lead up to the 2009 Bordeaux en primeur campaign, which will surely be heavily hyped and demand for the top wines may well out strip demand. En primeur, where you pay for wine two years before it is delivered is a brilliant bespoke vehicle for potential fraud.