Wine Name:

Monday, 28 June 2010

Finbow/Nouveau World Wines: police warning

Today I have received another message (see below) from DC Carl Hughes, who is one of the members of the fraud squad investigating Finbow/Nouveau World Wine.

'You recently contacted me concerning a Frank Benson who had contacted a victim of the Finbow/Nouveau Fraud stating he was working with SIFMA alongside us, the Fraud Squad in investigating this scam. Today, I had cause to contact another victim in this matter to be told they had the same contact (Benson) and also from a Michael Adams. Adams claimed to the victim that he had managed to arrange a refund of £50k towards her investment loss. When the victim stated they were interested, they were asked to send £55k as some kind of surety to release this money. Fortunately the victim saw it for the scam it was.

Please can you make you readers aware of what is going on here. The Police are not working with any outside agency in relation to this and have not and will not pass details of the victims to anyone. I would hate anyone to become further victims in this matter.'

Carl Hughes has described a typical 'white knight' scam where a con-artist attempts to extort more money from the victim in the pretense of helping to recover some or all of their money.

If you are contacted by someone saying they to belong to SIFMA or any other organisation and claiming that they are working with the police on this case, please report the details to DC Carl Hughes.    

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The unlikely claims of Artemis Bellet

Extract from an email Matthew Mansell, Artemis Bellet Ltd, 16.6.2010

 'The Wine Fund has been a closed shop to new investors for the past 6 months (as we need time for the investment to mature and absolute exit for all clients) hence our repositioning in London to handle a smaller UK base. As we are part of a Genève based hedge fund we did not need regulation from either FSA or FINMA for any of our instruments even though we do actively urge individual regulation within the organisation and the majority of our employees are FSA licensed. We are a separate entity from Genève within this respect and have developed our own strategy in relation to return.'

I emailed Matthew Mansell on 16th asking for the name of Geneva based hedge fund and the name of the Wine Fund. Getting no reply I sent another email on 24th asking the same questions as well as requesting the names of the 'FSA licensed' employees. As yet I have had no response.

I note that there is no mention of the Geneva hedge fund on the Artemis Bellet Ltd site. Nor on a Google search does there appear to be any mention of a Geneva link, I would have thought that Artemis Bellet Ltd would want to strength the credibility of a company set up as recently as the 9th April 2010 by highlighting that they are a subsidiary of a Geneva based hedge fund.

A Google search does suggest that Artemis Bellet Ltd exhibited at the 2010 edition of the London International Wine Trade Fair (18th-20th May). In fact although they booked space they did not take it up as the exhibition's director, James Murray, explains: 'Artemis were scheduled to exhibit with us and appeared in the exhibitor listing in our preview, Grapevine.  They reserved a stand quite late on and then had a change of heart a few days later.'

Did Artemis Bellet Ltd decide understandably that the London International Wine Trade Fair wasn't the forum for a wine investment company or was it a usual ploy to gain credibility by appearing in the on-line list of exhibitors?

Until Artemis Bellet Ltd provide evidence that they are part of a Geneva hedge fund and have 'FSA licensed employees I have to assume that these claims are fanciful. 


Thursday, 24 June 2010

2009 Bordeaux First Growths in short supply

'Bordeaux 09: 'phoney war' begins
June 23, 2010
Richard Woodard

As the Bordeaux 2009 campaign moves into its most intense phase, warnings of slow sales seem to be premature - though merchants are frustrated by their allocations of the first growths.'

Saturday, 12 June 2010

City of London Police Fraud Desk

Here are details of the Fraud Desk operated by the City of London Police.

Telephone: 020-7601 6999


'For advice on any element of economic crime or to report an allegation of fraud.'

Friday, 11 June 2010

Artemis Bellet Ltd

Today's inquiry:

Have you heard of this company? Artemis Bellet?

My response:
Artemis Bellet Ltd is a very recently formed company. It was registered on 8th April 2010 and is based at 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EV1V 4PY. The sole director is 32-year-old Ike Karl Chambers of Tooting, London. He was appointed on 4th June 2010, so it may well be that the company has only been trading for a week.

Despite the company's recent formation its website claims that 'a leading London based wine investment house focused on advising private and institutional clients across a broad range of diversified products'. Also their expertise is 'widely accepted' within the industry.

Further extracts from their website: 

'Who we are

Artemis Bellet is a leading London based wine investment house focused on advising private and institutional clients across a broad range of diversified products.

Since the company's founding, our values have been to sustain investment grade products to suit our client's individual portfolios. We provide solutions to help our clients proceed towards their goals by focusing on returns. We judge it is our responsibility not only to help maximise our client's investment potential but also to protect their assets and their family's future.

What we do
It is widely accepted we provide and source the best opportunities on investment grade fine wines within the industry. We present our clients with the most attractive and sought after tools to form a tailor-made and well diversified tangible investment.

In conjunction with our Purchasing Agents, we source our wines, your investment, directly from Château to secure provenance. Access to these finest wines gives our clients the benefit from the potential steep rise in value that can occur due to market demand.

Investments within fine wines' are not a new concept. Experts and enthusiasts have been reaping the rewards for hundreds of years and over the last quarter of a century fine wines have proved to be one of the most consistently stable, high yielding and low risk investments in the world.

Do I need to be an expert?
Absolutely not. Our experience and expertise is in identifying and sourcing wines which, in our opinion, have strong investment potential.

How quickly can I sell?
You can sell whenever you like, as the best wines of Bordeaux enjoy a ready secondary market. Whilst there are often impressive short term gains (our wines have increased by as much as 85% in the last 12 months alone).

Wine storage
Artemis Bellet recommends our clients to store the wines with a private trust account in a bonded warehouse, in this manner the wine belongs to you at all times and can only be removed from the bond with the combined signatures of that of the client / beneficiary in the event of death and Artemis Bellet.

Provenance is becoming increasingly important when you come to sell any of your wines. Private investors, auction houses and wine merchants will ask where and how the wine has been stored before agreeing to handle the sale. Artemis Bellet has built a treasured service of recommending and utilising their resources ensuring that the wines are in perfect condition for the future.

Some 10,000 private collectors, investors and wine merchants from 39 countries choose to store their collections at the bonded warehouse.

Stored securely at the bonded warehouse, 100 feet below the ground your wine is finer, safer and more valuable as a result.

* This would appear to be utter nonsense. If you set up a private account at a bonded warehouse you have full control over your wine. Artemis Bellet Ltd would have no involvement. It is for this reason that I recommend people to set up their own storage accounts with a bonded warehouse.

I would not consider buying from Artemis Bellet Ltd until they had established a track record or shown evidence of an existing one. 

Update: 4th August 2012: Artemis Bellet Ltd was dissolved through a voluntary strike off on 26th July 2011.   

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Cold callers busy this summer: The London Wine Shop and Bordeaux Fine Wines

Two very recent enquiries about people cold called about investment wines – one on behalf of The London Wine Shop, the other Bordeaux Fine Wines.
The London Wine Shop

DJ's enquiry:
'I have been contacted by The London Wine Shop offering to sell me a case of Chateau Latour 2004 for £4,800. Do you know anything about this company and in your considered opinion is it a sound investment? They cold called me.'

My response:
No buying at this price is not a sound investment as wine-searcher shows that you can buy the same wine for £3445 from Bordeaux Wine Investments and for £3500 from Wilkinson Vintners.

I wouldn't buy wine from The London Wine Shop.

DJ has also been contacted by Encarta Fine Wines Ltd, which was founded on 9th July 2009. Its registered office is in Heddon Street, Mayfair, London. Encarta trades from Bromley. They quoted £4,950 including transportation, 5 years storage and insurance for the 2004 Latour.

I wouldn't buy wine from Encarta Fine Wines Ltd either because of their lack of a track record and the price for the Latour is hardly competitive.

Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd

TM's enquiry:
'I have been rung by Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd" asking if I wish to invest. It sounds an attractive proposition, with their 10% commission on any profits sounding good. is this company bona fide do you know? They are asking me to buy Chateau Pavie 2008 at £1,750 a case en primeur. I have queried the price with them [by phone to the salesman] who tells me when I come to sell, the price will be based on the average increase in price for the wine sold in the market over the time I have held the wine. The Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd do look after you by ringing every month to let you know how the wine is doing, and the recommend good buys etc, at least that's what they say [no doubt also opportunities for a hard sell too!]. '

My response:
If you look at you will see that you can buy 2008 Pavie for £1165 a case from Justerini & Brooks, part of Diageo, the world's largest wine and spirit company.

I can see no reason for paying well over the odds from Bordeaux Fine Wines that was only founded on 18th September 2009, especially as you are buying this en primeur and BFW has no track record in supplying wines en primeur.

You will find a list of merchants I would consider buying investment wines from on my investdrinks blog. Bordeaux Fine Wines isn't one of these.

Finbow and SIFMA?

On Tuesday I received the following message: 

'Hi Jim,  my name is ZX I have been one of the many people duped into investing  in Finbow wines. I have been contacted by a guy called Frank Benson who says he is working for sifma, a government organisation working on the Finbow case. Have you heard of these guys, do you know if they are  legitimate?'

 SIFMA is not a government organisation but stands for 'The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association - SIFMA'. This organisation is based largely in the US with offices in London and Hong Kong. It would seem very unlikely that SIFMA know anything about this claim apparently made by 'Frank Benson'. Certainly the officers working on Operation Iceman know nothing of this Mr Benson and say SIFMA has no involvement in their investigation.

I would be interested to know if anyone else has been contacted by 'Frank Benson' or someone purporting to be working for SIFMA.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Bordeaux Index: 'World’s first live wine trading index launched'

The launch of this facility should bring further price transparency to the fine wine market. You will need to register to see the index and the live trades.

'Press Release: London, 7th June 2010155 years after Napoleon III* began officially ranking Bordeaux wines, leading wine merchants Bordeaux Index are delighted to launch a real time index. In addition, clients will also be able to view individual price graphs for all of the wines traded with data going back to 1st Jan 2008.  

The eponymous ‘The Bordeaux Index’  – tracks live changes in the prices of 80-100 of the most liquidly traded wines on the LiveTrade market making screen. LiveTrade was launched in May 2009 and is the market’s only true 2-way price provider.  This platform provides one of the largest turnovers of fine wine in the world.

“Rather than pricing monthly, our technology facilitates dynamic, daily updates and will allow users to monitor the market at their convenience,” says Bordeaux Index founder Gary Boom. “It’s the most transparent, accurate and simple way of gauging the market performance of Bordeaux….For the first time, investors will no longer need to base their decisions upon monthly market movements,” says Mr Boom. “Just as importantly, it does not require a statistics degree for interpretation.”

The launch of ‘The Bordeaux Index’ is the culmination of much hard work and planning, says Mr Boom. “We want to provide the best and most up-to-date information for our customers and are extremely proud to be leading such an innovative initiative within the industry.”
As with LiveTrade you just simply need to log in or register in order to use ‘The Bordeaux Index’ function.'
* I'm afraid it is a myth that Napoleon III played any part in the 1855 Classification.  


Monday, 7 June 2010

Bordeaux Wine Trading Company and International Wine Commodities: trial postponed

The trial at St Albans Crown Court of the directors of these two companies has been postponed until 11th October to allow the prosecution to add Templar Vinters Ltd to the proceeding.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Wine Traders International Ltd – message from RSM Tenon

Message from RSM Tenon
'Wine Traders International Limited has been wound up in the High Court of Justice no. 001873 of 2010 on 5 May 2010 by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in the public interest.

The Official Receiver, 21 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC1B 3SS is dealing with the matter following the winding up order on 5 May 2010.

Mr Stanley Coltman and Mr Alexander Kinninmonth of RSM Tenon ( have been nominated by creditors (investors) to act as liquidators and they have agreed to investigate this matter and deal with the ownership of the wines and realisation of the assets and distribution of future dividends to creditors.  They would like to hear from any creditors (investors) who are involved in this matter and  you are invited to contact Mark Hendrick, Associate Director at RSM Tenon on 020 7448 8115 or Robert Beat, Director at RSM Tenon on 020 7448 8111 and they will be happy to assist you in this matter.'

If  there are other companies who have been contacted by investors with Wine Traders International Ltd and who may also be looking to be appointed as liquidator by the official receiver I would be happy to post a similar message to the one above.