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Friday 31 July 2015

Wine Investment Fraudster Spyros Constantinos jailed for 8 years for £1 million con

Spyros Constantinos sentenced to 8 years 

On 29th July 2015 serial fraudster Spyros Constantinos was jailed for eight years at London’s Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court).

This sentence follows Constantinos’ conviction on 25th June on ten counts that included running a fraudulent business, intent to defraud and acting as a company director while disqualified. His trial lasted three weeks and was brought by Tower Hamlets Trading Standards.

An eight-year jail sentence is in the upper range of sentences given to drinks’ investment fraudsters over the last decade. Constantinos compounded his fraudulent activities by running companies while banned as a director.  

Following the collapse in 2006 of the Bordeaux Wine Consultants Ltd, Constantinos’ first wine investment company, he was banned from being a UK company director from 2008 to 2017. However, he acted as company director for several companies including Alpha Invest Worldwide, The Premier Bordeaux Wine Company and Classic Bordeaux Wines, which was based in Marbella.

Constantinos raked in around £1 million from duped investors. Instead of buying wine, he spent money on himself and his family including holidays in San Francisco and New York.

One investor, Dr Norman Dearden, was defrauded of nearly £500,000, while another lost £250,000 of their life savings. 

Constantinos was adept at fobbing off his increasingly desperate investors with promises that they would shortly receive their money back or that their wine was safe in a bonded warehouse, while all the time plying them with further wine investment opportunities. Of course these promises were never fulfilled as Constantinos siphoned off his clients money for his own purposes.   

In March 2013 Constantinos left the following comment (typical of his false promises) a earlier post on investdrinks about The Premier Bordeaux WineCompany:  

'All clients will receive all of their monies within a 6 month period. The company has had financial issues that are being resolved. This is not a scam and no fraud has taken place. I have never not responded to client emails with updates etc. This matter is already being dealt with by lawyers. I apologise to all clients that have been affected by this situation but once again I would like to reiterate that it my intention and belief that all clients will be paid the money that they are owed with interest within a 6 month period.' 
S. Constantinos 

The only financial issues faced by Constantinos' companies was how rapidly he could trouser his clients' money to fund his lifestyle. Constantinos' comment was a clear admission that he was running a company, while banned as a UK director.  

Five months later Constantinos was back again making promises (see below) but also acknowledging that he was under investigation by Tower Hamlets, which would lead him to the dock at the Old Bailey and then to prison.  

Spyros Constantinos again:
There you go. This is the problem with having such blogs. Anyone can write a load of rubbish!! I have not fled the country - and I certainly don't owe 30-40m!!! . It remains my fullest intent and belief that the clients that have been affected by this unfortunate situation will receive all of their money back at least when this situation is resolved. Spyros Constantinos.

25th August 2013 at 09:21
Hi Jim. As you are aware there is an investigation taking place. I have been advised that I should not go into any details of anything at the moment. I just wanted your readers to know that I haven't disappeared and it remains my intention and belief that those that have been affected by what has happened will receive their money back. Spyros.

Constantinos claimed he was let down by his fine wine supplier – Alexandre – a Russian based in Marbella. Similar script used by fraudster Daniel Snelling – equally unsuccessful!

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Winchester Associates Ltd – a recently active charitable institution?

 'Winchester Associates was founded in 2006 and 
has an extensive amount of commodity trading between it's (sic) brokers'

Companies House: nature of business: market research 
and public opinion polling
Last accounts made up to 31.12.2013 (Dormant) 

'Who is?' details of Winchester Associates website: registered 13th March 2015 

Winchester Associates Ltd's contact details are:
St Clement's House, 27/28 Clement's Lane, EC4N 7AE 
Serviced offices and meeting rooms   

Winchester Associates Ltd have recently been active contacting a number of wine investors and offering very attractive prices for clients in Dubai and China. Its website trumpets that the company was founded in 2006 and has 'extensive experience'. This impression is highly suspect.

Although Winchester Associates was indeed set up on 21.8.2006, the company with a £2 share capital was dormant at least until end of 2013 – the last accounts filed are for a dormant company. Probably remained dormant until around late February/March 2015. Current director is 33-year-old Christopher James Brummitt (appointed 24.2.2015 and their website  wasn't registered until 13.3.2015. Serviced office address. Despite this history website gives impression that Winchester Associates Ltd has been active in the fine wine trade and commodity trading since 2006.   

AC was recently contacted by Winchester Associates Ltd who made a very generous offer for their portfolio of wines. This offer included £1434 for a case of 2005 Lynch Bages, which can be purchased elsewhere in the UK for £928, £10,894 for 1996 Lafite (case) and most generously £689 for a case of 2012 Château d'Yquem. Doubtless Winchester Associates priced the Yquem on its rarity value as the château did not release any wine under its name in 2012 as the conditions during the vintage were so atrocious for making sweet wine. Distributing such largesse makes me wonder whether Winchester Associates Ltd is a registered charity.

AC was told that Winchester Associates Ltd don't normally trade wines and instead deal in other commodities for corporate customers (oil and gas, diamonds, stones, gold etc). They claim to have a specific customer referred to as an "International Hotel Chain" with office is Dubai and Shanghai who they help source wines for from UK stockists. They stated that they had POs from them and could offer Live-X +25%.   

Winchester Associates Ltd's web pages on energy, metals and gold bear considerable similarity with the pages on
--> and --> while the fine wine section has similarities with an established wine merchant.

Here as an example is Energy:
'Winchester Associates  provides products and solutions to a broad customer base across the energy sector. Traded energy products include natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), natural gas liquids (NGLs), power, crude oil, coal and other refined products.

In addition, the division is active across all physical energy products: natural gas, power, LNG, oil, NGLs and coal. Energy Markets also provides storage and transportation services, and commodities based financing.'
I have to admire Christopher Brummitt's energy as the sole director of a £2 company on having established 'a broad customer base across the energy sector' in just five months since his appointment in February 2015. 

However, despite this I will steer clear of Winchester Associates Ltd and their amazingly generous wine offers – wine deals in Dubai and Shanghai can go sour....   


An aside 
I am indebted to anon for this research. On 2nd June 2005 The Hertfordshire and Essex Observer reported that a Chris Brummitt – 22 years old and living at the Spinney was jailed for three months for assaulting two police officers, while drunk. Read the story here. This may well be another Chris Brummitt and an entire coincidence. However, Christopher Brummitt (director of Winchester Associates Ltd) does come from Hertfordshire and as he was born on 13th June 1982, he would have been 22 when he was sentenced.  

Update: 27th August 2015  
investdrinks understands that Winchester Associates Ltd applied to EHD and London City Bond to open a trading account at these bonded warehouses. Both companies declined to do business with Winchester Associates Ltd.   




Christopher Brummitt holds 1 appointments at 1 active companies, has resigned from 0 companies and held 0 appointments at 0 dissolved companies. Christopher began their first appointment at the age of 32. Their longest current appointment spans 0 years and 5 months at WINCHESTER ASSOCIATES LIMITED.

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Wednesday 22 July 2015

APW update from Quantuma – UK Agora still contacting APW clients

 Press release from Quantuma: 

17th July 2015

APW Asset Management Ltd in Liquidation 
APW Asset Management Ltd, the wine investment company, went into Liquidation on 25 March 2015.

Quantuma were jointly appointed to deal with the winding-up of the Company. Quantuma’s primary responsibilities are dealing with the assets of the Company and wines held in the names of investors. This will take some time to investigate due to the complications of the case.

Quantuma have been made aware of a number of communications from other wine investment companies to the former clients of APW Asset Management Ltd.

Nick Simmonds, Partner at Quantuma said “There are a number of complications with the Liquidation of APW Asset Management Ltd which will take some time to investigate and resolve. In the meantime we are concerned regarding approaches to former APW clients from other companies. We would like to reiterate that wines will not be released without Quantuma’s sanction and no third parties have been given permissionto contact clients in relation to APW. As a result, any contact received from third parties should be treated with extreme caution.”

'Please note that these calls/correspondence are NOT from Quantuma LLP' 

A report of identity theft has been made to Action Fraud and we would ask that any investorwho has been contacted in this manner make a report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 using reference number : NFRC 150 300 964 442


Agora UK Ltd are one of the companies that have been contacting APW clients as this email below shows. Please see previous investdrinks post on Agora UK Ltd. UK Agora Ltd appear to be mistaken in thinking that they have spoken with Quantuma.

'From: Admin <>
Date: 15 July 2015 at 17:14
Subject: APW UPDATE!

Dear Client, 

We hope you are well. 

We have an update regarding the APW/Quantuma situation. 

A large institutional client of UK Agora's managed to remove his APW wines before they went into administration off of the back of our advice. However, he still has around 40 cases inside the APW London City Bond account which were not moved.

After putting significant pressure on Quantuma they have informed him that he can expect to receive his wines as they are not classed as APW's asset. 

Like you, he has provided full proof of purchase which has helped Quantuma identify what wines belong to him. Your wines are stored within a sub account inside APW's main account which makes your wines easy to identify. (Should you be unsure of your account reference please check your APW paperwork. It normally consists of your first and last initial followed by a few numbers).

Fortunately for clients APW did actually purchase the majority of the wines they recommended. The wines we are aware they did not purchase are; Chateaux Lafite Rothschild, Yara Yerring and the Torbreck Laird 2008. 

This comes as fanatic (sic!) news as it means that your verticals and other collectible positions remain intact! This news has added some relief to those clients who were unsure of what the outcome would be. 

I have also been given an idea of the time scale this process will take. But at this point I feel that it is probably not worth mentioning until I have an exact date. 

We will continue to keep you up-to-date on this matter.

Best Regards,

Admin Department
Address: 55 Old Broad Street, London, EC2M 1RX
Tel: 0207 997 6759

Wednesday 1 July 2015

BIS petitioning to wind up Blakeney Bridge Wine Ltd


The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) is petitioning to have Blakeney Bridge Wines Ltd wound up in the public interest. The petition was presented on 26th May 2015. It will be in London's High Court on 18th November 2015.   

In the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division)

Companies Court No 3770 of 2015

(Company Number 7664841)
and in the Matter of the Insolvency Act 1986

A petition to wind up the above named Company of Airport House Business Centre, Purley Way, Croydon, Surrey, CR0 0XZ presented on 26 May 2015 by the SECRETARY OF STATE FOR BUSINESS, INNOVATION AND SKILLS, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN will be heard at the Rolls Building, Royal Courts of Justice, 7 Rolls Building, Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1NL on 18 November 2015 at 2.00 pm (or as soon thereafter as the petition can be heard).

Any person intending to appear on the hearing of the petition (whether to support or oppose it) must give notice of intention to do so to the petitioner or its solicitors in accordance with Rule 4.16 by 1600 hours on 17 November 2015.

The Petitioner’s solicitor is Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP, Two Snowhill, Birmingham, B4 6WR, telephone 0870 903 1000 email (ref: 2086995/DDG/LMA1.)
16 June 2015'

This is good news as Blakeney Bridge Wine Ltd targetted the elderly to persuade them to make wine investments.