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Saturday 13 May 2017

Montevino Partners Ltd bust for £1.5 million

'A wine merchant you can trust' 
Yes! ... to go bust owing £1.5 million 

Thomas White – sole director of Spirited Ventures Ltd 
and Montevino Partners Ltd

At its creditors' meeting on 28th April 2017 Thomas White, sole director of Montevino Partners Ltd, revealed in his Statement of Affairs, that the company had debts of just under £1.5 million.  

The Statement of Affairs has yet to appear on Companies House website*. However, the following figures were provided by a creditor who attended the 28th April meeting.  

From the £1.465 million of total debt, 53 individuals are owed £946,166 with trade customers owed £450,166 and HMRC £62,743. I assume that the 53 individuals are unfortunate investors, who thought they were buying wine from Montevino Partners but who now find that their wine was never bought and quite probably never ordered. 

I understand that White has chosen to blame Brexit for the company's problems. All very convenient! However, I cannot see how Brexit prevents a company placing orders for wine for which they have received payment. 

Take, for example, the invoice sent an investor who has sunk over £100,000 in Montevino Partners for no wine. This invoice was sent out on 4th July acknowledging receipt of £76,320 for 636 bottles of Poderi Gianni Gagliardo Barolo Serre. The investor was assured that 'We will now begin the Wine transfer process. You will be kept up to date every step of the way.' 

Unforgivably this Barolo was never ordered from Stefano Gagliardo as the producer confirmed in email on 20th January 2017. Gagliardo explains that in June 2016 he had a visit from people from Montevino Partners: it was 'in June 2016. Since then, I never received feedback, reservations or orders. Please double check, because if they sold you Barolo Serre 10 Anni ’09, ’10, ‘11, it means they sold something they never bought.'  

This is the second  company that traded as Montevino Partners to go bust. Spirited Ventures Ltd was the first going into liquidation in July 2016 with declared debts of £691,326. However, due to White's failure to list individual creditors it is not known what the real deficiency for Spirited Ventures Ltd. White's two Montevino companies have now racked up debts of at least £2,156,326. 

Thomas White has been proposing to set another phoenix company where his salary would be an eye-watering £84,500 in 2017 and a reduced salary of just £53,500 reduced as he would accept a dividend. Presumably it is White's ambition to rack up an even bigger debt when this new phoenix company in turn goes bust. Incredibly, despite all the evidence to the contrary, White had persuaded a few presumably desperate individual creditors to back this third company. 

Details of backing – Thomas White (13th February 2017):

'With regards to the feedback from the group, at this point the highlights are :

- We have 4/6 that are prepared to assist financially to start a Newco. 

- We have further 7 that are willing to support the firm and assist in its success but at this time are unable to contribute to the set up.

So I'm hopeful that will be sorted ASAP.

- The rest of the group have at this point showed no interest or have opted out.'

It is not clear whether White's proposed new phoenix company is still being readied for 'take-off'. I hope the scale of the combined losses (£2.15 million) racked up by Spirited Ventures Ltd and Montevino Partners Ltd will have persuaded them that White only has a reverse Midas touch. They should conclude that it makes no sense to throw more good money after bad. 

* Update 15.5.17) Companies House now lists that these documents have been received (15.5.17) and that they will be available within five days.