Wine Name:

Sunday, 19 December 2010

1855 – wines still outstanding

As of this afternoon I have details of over 76 cases (915 bottles) of Bordeaux en primeur that have yet to be received by clients of 1855. There are 37 bottles missing from 2003, 18 from 2004, 581 from 2005, 187 from 2006 and 96 from 2007.

Email correspondence with 1855 reveals a succession of promises that the wine will arrive next month but for some next month never comes.

I'm still concerned to collate as comprehensive list as I can of wines that have not been delivered by 1855, so if you are still awaiting wine ordered from this company please email me with the details at Please be assured that your name will not be published. 

Fraud trial@St Albans: jury is still out

The jury is still considering its verdicts in this case. They retired on Monday 13th and have now been allowed by Judge John Plumstead to return majority verdicts.  

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Fraud trial@St Albans: jury retires

I understand that the jury retired around 10.30am yesterday morning to consider their verdicts.

No news so far (17.30 14th December) and Crown Court closes at 4pm, so I assume that the jury will continue their deliberations tomorrow.

Wednesay 15th (20.00): No news so I assume the jury is still out and will continue their deliberations tomorrow.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Fraud trial@St Albans

I understand that the jury will be retiring first thing on Monday to consider their verdicts.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Fraud trial@St Albans: closing speeches

Following the disruption last week to transport caused first by the tube strike and then the snow I wasn't able to get up to St Albans to catch up with the case until this morning.

All the evidence has now been given and closing speeches have started. I heard part of Anne Evans, concluding remarks for the prosecution this morning. She was due to continue this afternoon with the first of the defence speeches starting later today. With the court tomorrow only sitting in the morning, closing speeches won't be finished until sometime on Thursday and then His Honour Judge John Plumstead will be summing up and issuing his directions to the jury, which is now down to 11 members. It looks like the jury will retire to consider its verdict from Friday or Monday. Then it will depend upon how long they need to make their decisions, which may be sometime as there are six defendants. Also there are a number of charges for them to consider, so it may be Tuesday or Wednesday of next week at least before the jury decides on its verdicts.  

(I hope to add some detail from Anne Evans' concluding speech as well as from Paul Craven's evidence earlier in the trial.)

London City Bond: collapsed roof@Purfleet

As has been reported elsewhere the roof at LCB warehouse at Purfleet collapsed on Thursday evening. It is believed that snow was a contributory factor. Fortunately the collapse happened at 4.45pm  30 minutes after the facility had closed and staff had gobne home, so no one was injured. It is highly probable that the bad weather saved lives here as around Christmas time staff frequently work overtime but the decision was taken to close the warehouse on time (4.15) that day due to the bad weather and poor road conditions, otherwise it is likely that staff would have been working overtime there when the roof collapsed. 

Only merchants store at Purfleet, so private reserves are not affected. However, of the 100,000 cases stored there it is estimated that certainly 70% of the stock has been lost and possibly as much as 80-90%. This is through bottles smashed and then subsequent weather damage. Companies using Purfleet tend to be the small to medium players and, of course, a sudden loss especially at Christmas time can have very serious implications for businesses.

Companies known to store at Purfleet include High Spirits, Patriache, HG Wines (the wine company of the St Johns group) and Peter Watts.   

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Wednesday, 1 December 2010 – awaiting en primeur deliveries?

I have been contacted by several people about outstanding en primeur orders from If anyone is waiting for an order for Bordeaux en primeur wines (vintages: 2003, 05, 06 and 07) ordered through, I would be very grateful if you could send me the details of any outstanding orders including when it was ordered and the price paid.

Please email me through

Monday, 29 November 2010

Fraud trial@St Albans: tube strike and weather KOs visit

Apologies to anyone awaiting news on the trial's progress. It was my intention to go to court this morning as the trial was due to resume at 10.30. Unfortunately the 9.45 from London Bridge to St Albans was cancelled and the 10.00 wasn't expected to arrive until 10.27, so I wouldn't have got to court until around 11.30. Unfortunately I doubt if I now have time to get up there until next Tuesday,  

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Fraud trial@St Albans: the jury have a week off

The jury has this week off because Oseghale Hayble, one of the defendants, has gone to the Whittington Hospital in north London as his sickle cell anaemia has apparently returned. The trial is due to resume on Monday 29th November.

I understand that Craven and Cashman have completed their eveidence and that Hayble's barrister has indicated that his client will not be giving evidence. Moruthoane and Linskill have yet to give their evidence. Once they have done so, it will be time for the closing speeches from the prosecution and the five defendants' barristers before Judge Plumstead sums up and issues directions to the jury. My guess is that the trial is now unlikely to finish before the week beginning 6th December.   

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Seale Wines: message from the Met

I understand that the Metropolitan Police are investigating Seale Wines Ltd. They would welcome details from any clients of Seale Wines Ltd. In the first instance the investigating team would like to know from clients the date of any transactions and how much money they paid.  

I'm happy for any clients of Seale Wines Ltd to contact me and I will forward your emails to the Met. You can be assured that I will not publish them. My email is budmac@btinternet .com

New scam: hijacking the good name of reputable wine companies

I'm very happy to post details of this new scam that Lionel Nierop of Bid for Wine has brought to my attention. Although not all the 'modi operandi' of this scam are not fully apparent at present, it appears to be similar to the scams that target European producers, particularly in France, attempting to secure consignments of wine without paying for them using the names of legitimate companies.

If anyone has any information about callers hijacking a legitimate company’s good name please email me on

Once again this is another warning that cold calls are bad news.

Just freeze out cold callers.

Remember that no company authorized by the Financial Services Authority can use cold calls.

From Lionel Nierop, managing director – Bid for Wine:

Wine Investment Cold Calls – a Warning
I’d like to draw to the attention of readers of investdrinks to what appears to be a new scam in the already murky world of wine investment – namely hijacking the name of an established business. The fraudsters then use the name to sell wines for investment, presumably with the intention of pocketing investors’ funds and leaving the legitimate business taking the heat.

I became aware of the ‘scam’ yesterday evening after I was emailed by a gentleman wishing to complain about several cold calls made to him, ostensibly by one of my employees. The caller was apparently rude and persistent.

The email was a surprise and puzzled me for several reasons:

- Firstly we do not solicit for business by cold-calling.
- Secondly we have no employee with the name I was given.
- Thirdly I am deeply sceptical about wine investment in general. This stems from regularly having to auction off stock at for people who have been mis-sold wines as being suitable for investment and have then seen the deal gone sour. I would always advise anyone considering putting their money in to wine to look beyond the sales pitch and, if still convinced, only to consider purchasing wines as from serious, ‘blue chip’ merchants (see Jim Budd’s list).

I am sure that we at Bid for Wine ( are not the only ones who are having our name misused in this manner and I would urge the trade to be vigilant and anyone being contacted by cold-callers selling wine as an investment to take details and pass them on to the police. In addition, if anyone encounters our name in association with such a sales pitch I would be very grateful for any information!

Lionel Nierop

Managing Director
Bid for Wine

Tel. +44 (0)207 183 3985
Mob. +44 (0)7762 566894

The Wine Trade Ltd (T/A Bid for Wine) is registered in England & Wales, Company No. 6521437.
Registered Office Address: 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John St, London, EC1V 4PY.
Correspondence Address: P.O. Box 638, Exeter, Devon, EX1 9JY

BBC Inside Out: Olympic Land Scam

Investigation by BBC Inside Out London into a land scam based around the London Olympics in 2012 ruined victims. Illustrates again the dangers of cold calls and the ease by which victims can think they are speaking to someone in the UK when actually they are connected to a boiler room scam in Spain.

Click here.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Nouveau World Wines Ltd and Finbow Wines Ltd: bail extended

Those arrested in connection with these two companies have been bailed until the last full week of March 2011. 

Anyone concerned at the apparently slow progress of this investigation should be aware that investigations into alleged fraud are often lengthy, especially where it is necessary to obtain evidence from abroad. In this case the investigation needs evidence from Australia. I realise that for investors who have lost money the delay is frustrating but I would urge patience.  


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Fraud trial@St Albans: Paul Craven cross-examined

3rd November 2010

I spent this morning in St Albans Crown Court where Paul Craven, one of the defendants was cross-examined by Mr Davis, barrister for Niklas Cashman another of the defendants.

Mr Davis took Craven through his spending – holidays, cars, diamonds, watches, clothes etc. –  while at a the Bordeaux Wine Trading Company referring him to a number of bank accounts.  

The trial is expected to last at least another two weeks.

Fraud trial@St Albans: Andrew Griffiths

3rd November 2010: 

Please note that Andrew Griffiths has now been severed (official parlance) from this case with a new trial date to be set in due course. In plain language he is now no longer on trial in this case being heard at St Albans Crown Court.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Wine Traders International Limited (in liquidation)

In the High Court of Justice 
Chancery Division
Companies Court
No. 1873 of 2010

Wine Traders International Limited (in liquidation)

Take notice that, following a winding up order made on 5 May 2010, Trevor John Binyon and Stephen John Parker of Sherlock House, 73 Baker Street, London W1U 6RD were appointed Joint Liquidators of the said Company at a meeting of creditors held on 28 July 2010. Creditors of the above-named Company are requested, as soon as possible and preferably within fourteen days, to send in to the Joint Liquidators of the said Company their full names, their addresses and descriptions, the name and address of their Solicitors (if any), and full particulars of their debts or claims, including: purchase invoices, evidence of payment to Wine Traders International Limited (or if paid to another entity, its identity), certificates of allocation or ownership, portfolio evaluations and copies of all correspondence with the Company.


Please note that this is a statutory legal advertisement that I have happily agreed to post. I urge all creditors to contact the appointed liquidators.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Tony Hetherington on Fine Wine Vintnors (sic)

Tony Hetherington exposed Fine Wine Vintnors in his column in the Mail on Sunday yesterday. See here.

Tony kindly mentioned and I have received a number of enquiries from concerned investors. I will reply to all of these queries but it will take a little time. Please be patient.

In the meantime buy only from established companies and certainly never from a company that uses pushy cold calls.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Fraud trial@St Albans: Templar Vintners Ltd

(Proceedings rather seem to have jumped ahead of themselves moving rapidly onto Templar Vintners, the third and most recently formed company involved in this trial. A question I think of juggling with witnesses' availability. Doubtless there will be a return to evidence involving the Bordeaux Wine Trading Company and International Wine Commodities.

The Judge – His Honour John Plumstead may have revealed that the judiciary have also been subject to government cuts when he referred to 'his creaky old laptop'.)

Dr Francis Leigh Moss
Dr Moss explained that he had been contacted on his mobile phone by a Daniel Price, a salesman for Templar Vintners Ltd. Initially he was surprised to be contacted on his mobile as he rarely gave the number out. On reflection Moss thought he might well have filled out a form expressing interest in buying wine for investment. He had already previously bought wine for investment from the Bordeaux Wine Company.

Moss said that Daniel Price was confident, well spoken and had an air of knowledge – he spoke the language (of wine investment). In October 2009 he agreed to buy a case of 2008 Ausone (St Emilion) en primeur for £7740. As well as his invoice Moss received a Templar Vintners brochure, which looked 'glossy', 'professional', 'establishment – at the upper end of the market and a 'multi-million pound' company stating that 'Templar Vintners is one of the leading fine and rare wine merchants'.

In December 2009 Moss bought a case of 2008 Lafite-Rothschild for £4200. After Christmas he decided to rationalise his wine investment portfolio: to sell the less well performing wines to free up funds to buy wines that would show a greater return.

Looking at his portfolio Moss concluded that it was "the highest and scarcest wines from the best vintages – 2000, 2003 etc. which had given the best performance. This was a good time to remove the less good wines from my portfolio, sell them and reinvest. I was open to offers and Templar Vintners raised the question of an exchange."

It was arranged that the wines Moss wanted to sell would be bought by Bordeaux Index Ltd "a highly reputable, secure company (Moss)" and the wines transferred from Branford bond to London City Bond. The deal was worth between £13,000 and £15,000. Templar Vintners would use the money raised to buy new wines for Moss.

Before he went ahead with this new deal Moss decided, given the amount of money involved, that  he needed to do more research. He checked with Companies House and discovered that Templar Vintners was incorporated in 2008 and had changed its name during 2009. There were two directors: Andrew Griffiths and James Allie. Moss could find out little about Griffiths but discovered that Allie was a Liberal Democrat councillor in Brent, so felt reassured.

Moss was also worried that the firm's address Hamilton House was 'an address of convenience'. That his contact with Templar Vintners was by mobile phone and that the brochure had used material from other companies – "cut and pasted". "Looking at the brochure I became more concerned – not a true and genuine document'. He told Templar Vintners that he was not prepared at this time to go through with the deal.

On a Friday evening in January around 5pm he spoke on the phone with an Ethan Brook who was "agitated, angry and affronted". Brook accused him of "neneging on the deal – a deal that he had requested". Moss asked for his money back on the previous deals but was told that this wasn't possible for legal reasons as under the Distance Selling Regulations there was a six week tiime period.

Moss asked for reassurance that this was a genuine deal and asked for a signed letter from Andrew Griffiths or James Allie. He asked in particular for reassurances from James Allie as he thought someone in James Allie's position would not be involved in something that was not legal and above board.

Moss never received a signed letter from either Griffiths or James Allie.  He did receive an email purporting to come from Allie but it wasn't signed. The transfer never went ahead nor has he received any money back for the two cases of 2008 that he ordered.

Under cross-examination from Mr Smith, representing Andrew Griffiths, Moss agreed that the brochure didn't mention 'multi-million pound company'. However he drew this inference from Templar's claim: 'our clients benefit directly from our immense buying power, amassed through years of experience'.

The trial continues.

3rd November 2010:
Please note that Andrew Griffiths has now been severed (official parlance) from this case with a new trial date to be set in due course.

Fraud trial@St Albans: 'There seemed to be a never ending supply'

Stephen Creaton 
In the second half of last Friday's morning session prosecution witness Stephen Creaton, a tele salesman, gave the first part of his evidence. Creaton described how he had been employed by a number of wine investment companies.

He started with the Bordeaux Wine Company where he worked from approximately April 2006 to October 2006. As he had no previous experience of the fine wine industry – "I'd never worked in wine before" – much of his time at BWC was spent being trained by Anthony. The software programme used was Goldmine, which is a way of keeping a record of calls to customers.

Mr Creaton said that at BWC there was a senior sales team, which consisted of two women, and a junior team which consisted of between 8-10 people. Oseghale Hayble, one of the defendants, was the manager of the junior sales team. Creaton's pay at BWC was £25,000 a year basic then a commission rate that ranged from 2%-4%.

In October 2006 Hayble invited Mr Creaton to join the Bordeaux Wine Trading Company, a new wine investment firm selling en primeur Bordeaux and based in Potters Bar. Creaton moved companies as BWTC was closer to his home and the money was better: £1000 a month retainer and 10% commission once you had earned £1000. It was a two room office operation with the offices separated by a long corridor and a number of other offices that were quite independent of BWTC. The larger room was the salesroom with 9-10 telesales staff. Paul Craven, one of the defendants, was usually in the small office along with a girl who handled the admin.

The sales staff cold called potential investors using a three-page script. Hayble gave  Mr Creaton his script. Although Mr Creaton got on well with Hayble the relationship with Craven was more difficult. "They were like chalk and cheese. Craven was rash and harsh – always looking for money. No pleasing him. If you weren't on the phones he wanted to know why."

Creaton became unhappy with the job. The whole set up started to ring alarm bells. This was crystalised when Craven said he was going to Bordeaux to pick up wine. "Although I didn't know all the ins and outs I knew you couldn't just go to Bordeaux to pick up wine as everything goes through the négociants. It wasn't quite right and I was concerned. I stopped selling and started to look for an exit."

Creaton was 'let go' in Spring 2007 and went to work for a family run wine investment business based in Edgeware. He worked in the back office sending out cheques covering for someone who was off on maternity leave. He stayed four to five months.

Creaton received a call from Hayble who told him that he was no longer with Craven and that he was setting up International Wine Commodities Ltd in Wheatstone, although they had a Mayfair postal address. Commission was 10% up to £25,000, 15% from £25,000-50,000 and 25% thereafter. Hayble's partner in IWC was Benedict Moruthoane, another defendant. Creaton said that Moruthoane was the "silent partner" in IWC.

At IWC there was a white board on which the wines they had to push were marked up and the sales team would cross off cases as they sold them. At BWTC there had been an unchanging list of the five First Growths. "The wines stayed the same," said Creaton, "although the price would change. There seemed to be a never ending supply. There was never a stop point."

Creaton explained that he didn't use his own name because business cards had aleady been printed with another person's name and that their elderly customers preferred to deal with someone with an Anglo-Saxon name.

Mr Creaton worked at IWC until the company was raided by Hertfordshire Police who closed down the company. Hayble claimed that this was "a bit of a mistake" and that the police had confused BWTC with IWC. 

Creaton was due to be cross-examined on Monday but I wasn't at the court.



Monday, 18 October 2010

2010 Bordeaux vintage: Gary Boom's urges caution

(Received this morning views of Gary Boom, founder and MD of Bordeaux  Index)
Bordeaux harvest update – wine industry prepares for a new episode of ‘twin peaks’

Press Release: October 18th 2010 – The spirits of wine lovers and investors have been buoyed by the news that the 2010 Bordeaux harvest is living up to its early promise, with the quality already being compared in some quarters with last year’s exceptional vintage.
With the harvest now complete, three of the region’s top chateaux have told fine wine merchant Bordeaux Index ( they’re expecting this year’s vintage to be remarkable.

“It seems a little premature to mention Bordeaux 2010 when we’ve only just said farewell to the all-consuming jamboree that was Bordeaux 2009,” said Bordeaux Index founder and MD Gary Boom. “But initial reports are that the latest crop is destined to be good, very good indeed.”
Promising early reports from Bordeaux are often greeted with a degree of scepticism within the industry. However, the character and standing of the chateaux involved – Including Angelus, Latour and Le Pin – is adding credibility to the claims.
The final factor in the equation – the weather – has also played its part with warm temperatures in south western France characterising the final stages of the harvest.
“Remembering that 2009 was a truly wonderful vintage, I wouldn’t be that surprised if we have a serious case of vinous twin peaks on our hands,” said Gary Boom.
With the likelihood of another promising pedigree on offer, attention is now focusing on the inevitable question – what price will the 2010 vintage fetch?
Gary Boom is advising a note of caution, “It’s a complicated market at the moment. Normally the arrival of a great vintage is one of the most powerful tools for attracting interest but the reality is that we already have ample supply of ‘prime’ vintages, with plenty of the 00/05/09s sat awaiting consumption. In contrast, it’s the highly sought after ‘off-prime’ vintages of 99/01/04 that are looking increasingly stretched. “
The key factor behind this change in recent years has been increased demand from Asia as brand-based consumption has triumphed over all other factors.
“In short, this market wants the cheapest available vintage of a small set of favoured brands,’ observed Gary Boom. “As we’re on the cusp of another ‘great’ vintage, my advice to investors would be to focus on the 2007/08s with the right labels and be wary of the 2009/05s at the wrong price.”

Friday, 15 October 2010

Fraud trial@St Albans

Wine investors ‘defrauded of £2.5 million’
The trial of six people involved in three allegedly fraudulent wine investment companies started in St Albans Crown Court this week. The three companies were the Bordeaux Wine Trading Company, International Wine Commodities Ltd and Templar Vintners Ltd.  There are a number of charges. Niklas Cashman, Paul Craven, Oseghale Hayble and Benedict Moruthoane are charged with conspiracy to defraud. Benedict Moruthoane and Andrew Griffiths are charged with fraud and Anita Lanskill with transferring criminal property. Although the case is linked, it is believed that none of the defendants was involved in all three companies. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Investors were persuaded by cold calling telesales staff to invest in Bordeaux en primeur mainly 2005 First Growths. Although the victims paid a total of £2.5 million, it is alleged that the companies only ever bought one £10,350 case of wine. No other orders were placed. 

Instead the defendants spent the money on luxury goods, including flash cars and designer watches. The court heard today of a spending spree by 37-year old Paul Craven, who ran the Bordeaux Wine Trading Company. In October 2006 he bought BMW convertible for £20,600. In November he spent over £16,000 on various items in Selfridges including Ozwald Boateng clothes and Cartier watches. In January 2007 Craven bought an electric wine cooler (£1225) as well as a Jacuzzi bath and bathroom TV. 

In October 2007 Craven bought a black RR sport Land Rover for £55, 700. The next month he splashed out on a black BMW sports convertible for his girlfriend paying £32,162 on the spot by debit card.  The saleman described Craven as 'very cocky and loud – a Jack the lad'. 

Shortly afterwards the couple split up. Craven contacted the garage and inquired about selling the BMW back to them but he never came back into the garage to pursue the enquiry further.     

The court also heard part of the evidence of Stephen Creaton, a tele salesman who worked for both the Bordeaux Wine Trading Company Ltd and International Wine Commodities Ltd. He will be cross-examined on Monday.

The trial continues and is expected to last four to five weeks. 

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wine investment and inheritance tax: a further warning

News - Tax
Written by Ray Clancy   
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 10:25

UK investors in wine are building up huge unexpected tax bills having been misled by salesmen over how HM Revenue and Customs treat wine, it is claimed.
HMRC recently produced guidance warning of increasingly widespread misunderstanding that the value of wine investments for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes is based on the purchase price of wine rather than its current market value.

Read the rest here.


Clearly anyone considering wine investment or who already has wine investments should get professional tax advice and not rely on what some high pressure telesales person tells them. Nor should they rely on claims about wine being a tax-free investment made on some companies' websites.

Although many wines but not all are considered by HM Reveue and Customs to be wasting assets, the concept of wasting assets does not apply for inheritance tax. Inheritance tax values are based on current prices and not the price at which the wine was bought.  

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

FT article on wine investment and inheritance tax

Interesting article in the FT (5th October 2010) on Revenue and Customs looking at inheritance tax on wine investments:

HM Revenue targets wine cellars
By Ellen Kelleher
Published: October 5 2010 14:48 | Last updated: October 5 2010 14:48
Executors of wills are facing the prospect of paying unexpected tax bills for failing to record the market value of the wine cellars in estates, accountants claim.

Read the rest here.

Friday, 24 September 2010

I wouldn't buy wine from these companies

I have just added a page to this blog listing companies from whom I would not buy wine.

For a variety of reasons I would not consider buying wine from them. This would apply in particular to ordering wines en primeur.  I would not buy for a variety of reasons: the lack of an established track record, the use of cold calls especially when persistent, charging an upfront commission, selling well above the price these wines can be bought from other companies, lack of hard information about the company – its officers, history etc on websites and brochures, exaggerated and unlikely claims made by recently formed companies. The reasons for not wishing to buy from one of these companies will obviously vary from company to company.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Finbow Wines: SIFMA warning

I understand that Michael Adams and Frank Benson are continuing to contact previous clients of Finbow Wines and offering them deals to assist them recover money invested in Finbow. Apparently one elderly Finbow investor has been stung for a further £15,000 by people claiming to act for SIFMA.  It is clear that Adams, Benson etc. have full details of Finbow's clients. I understand that SIFMA (The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) are not involved in any way. 

If contacted by Michael Adams, Frank Benson or anyone else purporting to represent SIFMA do not agree to their proposals, which are likely to involve further payments to recover Finbow monies. Instead report full details to both your local police, informing them that Finbow Wines is under investigation by the Metropolitan Police and also to file a report on Action Fraud ( 


Saturday, 31 July 2010

Wine Traders International: liquidator appointed

I understand that at the creditors' meeting on Wednesday that RSM Tenon were appointed as the liquidators of the company. I am hoping to get further details from Tenon early next week and will post them when I have them.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Two trials to come in the autumn – previous successes for the SFO

As there are two wine investment trials due to start in October following police investigations, I thought it was timely to list previous prosecutions for conspiracy to defraud brought in these instances by the Serious Fraud Office – see press releases section. Details of some of these trials are on my site.

Cavendish Wine Merchants/Hamilton Spirit Management
This was the first prosecution brought by the SFO in respect to drinks investment fraud and involved 'investments' in barrels of malt whisky. The case involved Lewis Daulby, who pleaded guilty before the start of the trial, Lee Rosser and Julian Blee. Rosser and Blee were found guilty.


House of Delacroix 
This was an associated trial (early 2001) to Cavendish/Hamilton as this was a company dealing in Champagne for the Millennium set up by Blee and Rosser with Craig Dean. Blee and Rosser pleaded guilty before the start of the trial. Craig Dean was found guilty.


Marshall Wineries 
Marshall was another malt whisky investment company, which also offered Champagne for the Millennium. The trial was held in the first part of 2004. The appropriately named Stephen Jupe was found guilty.


Vintage Wines of St Albans
The company offered wines and spirits as investments to Americans, targeting doctors in particular. Four of the five defendants were found guilty in August 2008 – one was acquitted. Two of the four couldn't be named at the time. Shameen Suleman was found guilty, while Stephanie Callebaut pleaded guilty before the trial started. Haroon Khatab also also found guilty but his name had to be concealed until he was later pleaded guilty to an Asian meals fraud. This food fraud also involved a couple of victims of the Vintage Wines fraud.  


Asian food fraud:

Friday, 23 July 2010

22nd July 2010: Two jailed for a £7 million “boiler room” fraud

 (Press release from the SFO (Serious Fraud Office)

Two men were sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court today for running an illegal high pressure, share-pushing operation from call centres in Spain.  Around 1,250 investors in the UK were persuaded to buy over £7 million worth of shares.  Using their “Gordon Gekko” contract notes to complete the transactions, the fraudsters siphoned off around 80% of the invested funds.  

David Arthur Vidgeon (DOB 02/01/1980), a UK national resident in Spain was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Rahul Natwar Patel (DOB 09/09/1975), a UK national resident in Spain was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

They were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, contrary to Common Law, on 15 July.  Three other defendants, Baldur Sigurdsson, Roland Pibworth (tried in absentia)* and Craig John Clark were acquitted.

SFO Director Richard Alderman said:  "A boiler room is a predatory and orchestrated 'attack' on private investors so it's very satisfying to see justice delivered for such callous dishonesty.  I hope that publicity of today's outcome will serve as a warning for people to think twice when hard-sell investment offers, usually unsolicited, appear tempting. ‘No’ is the right answer".  

David Vidgeon and Rahul Patel conspired to defraud investors, many of whom were retired and elderly, by high pressure selling of shares in small/obscure companies, with false claims as to their future worth.  This fraudulent sales practice was carried out by unlicensed offshore brokerages known as “boiler rooms” under the control and direction of Vidgeon and Patel.  The period covered is April 2003 to November 2006.

The lynchpin in the fraud was Vidgeon.  He arranged and controlled the deals between the boiler rooms in Spain and the UK companies whose shares they were to sell to unsuspecting investors.  Vidgeon obtained these companies through the sourcing activities of an intermediary. Together they supplied several sales operations with companies’ shares to sell.  These were based in Spain, one of which was in Barcelona and operated by Rahul Patel. Two other persons suspected of criminal involvement in Patel’s enterprise fled the jurisdiction.

The companies whose shares were sold were worthless.  Their function in this conspiracy was as vehicles used by Vidgeon, Patel and the boiler rooms to take not less than 80% of the investors’ money. 

One company was Toppurinn UK Ltd, a timber buildings business in the leisure market.  It was supposedly planning to enter the steel frame market; at one stage exploring the possibility of becoming involved in supplying to Iraq as part of the US-led reconstruction.  This did not materialise.

COL Systems Ltd was another company whose shares were being pushed.  Its product “Crime-on-Line”, a concept developed in Iceland, was described as a theft prevention/recovery system for registering property ID references on a central online database.  The claim was that it would enable the police to return recovered stolen
property to the owners.  The system was said to have been initially piloted in partnership with the Icelandic police and insurance sector but in reality did not achieve commercial viability.  

Another company, the Osborn Group, trading as “The Crowd Went Wild”, purported to market sporting memorabilia on the internet.  It had no real substance and like “Crime-on-Line” it was simply part of the deception. A template contract note obtained during the investigation was file-named “Gordon Gekko”; an indicator of the business philosophy of the operators.  Similar templates were used across all the boiler rooms.

A further four companies were sold by the boiler rooms. None of these companies had any trading activity.

The ‘boiler room’ is a recognised engine of fraud. Boiler rooms are essentially call centres, concerned in the selling of shares on behalf of companies. The selling of shares is an activity regulated by the FSA. Boiler rooms are not authorised and operate illegally, often from abroad.

The ‘boiler rooms’ sell by cold-calling and use hard-sell tactics. The success of their deception is measured not only by the sums of money extracted but also by the nature of the people who were persuaded to part with their money. Even people who believed they were experienced investors were victims of the fraud.

Vidgeon’s own boiler rooms generated in excess of £2.3 million, nearly a half of which he retained, the rest being paid out to other conspirators. Rahul Patel earned more than £960,000 from the operation.

Bank accounts in Spain, Latvia, Cyprus and other overseas jurisdictions were established to help manage the monies received from investors.

Investigation and proceedings
The SFO investigation commenced in May 2005 with support from Norfolk and Suffolk Police.  Later that year searches were conducted in several locations within the UK. Searches were also conducted in Spain with assistance from the Spanish Police.  Evidence was obtained from eight countries outside the United Kingdom.

The defendants were charged in December 2008. The trial opened at Ipswich Crown Court on 14 April 2010 with HHJ Holt presiding and the jury returned verdicts on 15 July.  

In passing sentence, HHJ Holt said “It was a sophisticated and prolonged boiler room fraud and had as victims sensible, ordinary people many of whom lost life savings...An investor buying any of these shares will have a better chance of a return by buying a lottery ticket. You knew this and did not care.”

* Roland Pibworth, who was acquitted, was the founder of Australian Portfolio Wines in Australia. 

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Encarta Fine Wines Ltd: 'the worst case scenarios from our company' (part 2)

HM (see previous post) received a number of calls and emails from Encarta Fine Wines Ltd. One of them sent by Paul Stapleton, senior portfolio manager.

'Dear Investor

Thank you for your interest in our company. Attached is some additional information to keep you upto date with the sector and how it is progressing. Please find below the wines that we have in allocation which are a GREAT START, to a successful working portfolio. These allocations are flying out, so if you have any questions, queries or would like to add one of these to your portfolio, please email me or call my direct line.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 Kind Regards

Paul Stapleton
Senior Portfolio Manager

Encarta Fine Wines Ltd
Mayfair House
14-18 Heddon Street
W1B 4DA'

Stapleton illustrated his point with three wines: 2007 Léoville-las-Cases (Encarta price: £1500), 2005 Lynch-Bages (Encarta price: £1400) and 2006 Pichon-Lalande (Encarta price: £895). He claimed an compound annual growth rate of 14% for the Léoville, 13% – Lynch-Bages and 25% for the Pichon.

Remarkable rises and doubtless tempting! However, outside an 'exciting, faced paced broking environment staffed by  'driven, money motivated individuals' the reality is considerably less tempting. shows that in mid-June 2010, the 2007 Léoville-las-Cases could be bought for £795 from Robert Rolls  (8.6.09), Veblen Wines Ltd had the Lynch-Bages for £775 (10.6.10) and Interest in Wine Ltd had the Pichon at £635.

Encarta price for the three wines:                     £3795
Price if bought from cheapest merchant:           £2205
Difference                                                       £1590

Mr Stapleton's 'GREAT START': 72% more expensive.

Furthermore, Encarta's claims of the rise in price of these wines are meaningless and misleading. These percentages show, if they mean anything, only by how much Encarta has whacked up the prices in its short trading history.

 In reality wine-searcher shows that the Léoville fell by 10.6% from the lowest price available in June 2009, while the Lynch-Bages was up by 6.5% and the Pichon by 8.7%. Furthermore, prices for these three wines have dropped over the past month with the Léoville (£780: minus 10.7%), Lynch-Bages (£750: 3.3%) and Pichon (£620: 6.5%). 
The figures speak for themselves!

 Bromley based jobs with Encarta Fine Wines Ltd
Some extracts from a advert placed with WorkFinders network by Encarta: 





We are seeking professional closers who can demonstrate a proven track record.

Unlimited earning potential with top performers earning on average over £10k per month, with prompt payment for you!

Now is the time to take advantage of the Wine investment market. 

Those with experience in stock broking, wine broking, land broking are ideal although if you have a strong sales background and are sharp on the phone, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!



Our young and energetic company, is based in the bromley*, with fantastic incentives on offer. We believe strongly in rewarding sales people who work hard and beat targets!



Where to apply, inquire, or obtain further information
Dean Doughty

Tel: 08009707991

Full advert is here.

 * If the company is based in Bromley why change the registered office trom Bromely to Heddon Street in Central London in October 2009 and give this as its contact address on the website? You would have thought that 'a good, down to earth, friendly and helpful fine wine investment company' would want its clients to know its trading address.  


Encarta Fine Wines Ltd: 'the worst case scenarios from our company' (part 1)

I have received a recent enquiry from HM about Encarta Fine Wines Ltd

'I have been approached by Encarta Investment Group regarding investing in wines. They are offering 2009 Carruades de Lafite - Rothschild. Half a case for £2,200. They cold called me earlier this year.

I declined their offer then, but said I might be interested in the future. Since then I have received calls and emails.

My response
Encarta Fine Wines Ltd was set up on 9th July 2009 with Dean Doughty as the director and Lucy Damato as the company secretary. A further director, Matthew Hart, was appointed on the 19th August 2009. The company's website was registered on 5th October 2009. Its registered office is at Mayfair House, 14-18 Heddon Street, London W1B 4DA.

However, the Encarta Fine Wines' website explains that its origins were earlier than this:

'Encarta Investment Group was founded in 2006. When the company was formed, we believed that there was the need for a good, down to earth, friendly and helpful fine wine investment company offering a range of fine wines from Bordeaux. A sort of antidote to the increasing anonymity and sameness of the big chain stores. We have been rewarded in the enormous increase in wine investors and the resulting growth in demand for en premier first growths.'

Encarta Investment Group is not a limited company. Its address is Fox House, 135 High Street, Bromley BR1 1LF. There is one similarly named limited company in the Bromley area – Encarta Associates Ltd, which founded on 5th August 2009 at Imperial House, North Street, Bromley BR1 1SD. This was also the registered office of Encarta Fine Wines Ltd until 7th October 2009 when it was changed to Heddon Street.

However, the company would appear to trade from the Bromley as this just ad indicates:

'Encarta fine wines
(London/South East) Full Time Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Job Description:

We currently have full time investment broking vacancies in our team on the trade floor, this is available for driven, money motivated individuals with a passion for sales. Those with experience in stock broking, wine broking or land broking are ideal – although if you have a strong sales background and are sharp on the phone, we want to hear from you! with a basic salary and a strong ongoing commission structure, this is the perfect role for those looking to develop their sales career in an exciting, fast paced broking environment

This is not a job for those afraid of hard work, the job involves speaking to investors across the UK and IRELAND, no matter how wealthy! The hours are long, the job is tough & demanding, BUT the rewards can be tremendous!
hours 10.30-7.30pm
salary is 800pcm to begin with (comissions on top) with huge potential for promotion in a short period of time for the right candidate.
OTE 50,000 to 100,000 a year
Location: Bromley, Kent

Compensation: 800pcm

Telecommuting is ok.

Encarta Investment Group Address: Fox House
135 high st
Bromley - BR1 1JF
Contact: Dean'

Back in February in an exchange of emails Matthew Hart explained the company background:

'Encarta Fine Wines Ltd was registered with companies house in 2009, however has been sole trading since 2006 on very a small scale basis, but must also highlight a mistake* you have which is I am not the sole director, our prices are generally around 25% above the prices shown from some of the larger Merchants for example Farr Vintners, but within this increased price we include storage for up to 5 years**, and of course advice on purchasing.

We can resell to existing clients & potential new clients, portfolios of existing clients thus offering only a 5% selling commission. So I agree we may be more initially to purchase, but also offer investment advice for this service, but are less expensive to sell the portfolio.

I myself have been a lover of fine wine and have visited Bordeaux region wine tasting etc, as this is a passion of mine.'

My notes:
* Correct Dean Doughty is also a director
** Five years storage at LCB's Private Reserves is £71.91 inc vat.

2009 Carruades de Lafite - Rothschild
There is no doubt that the price of Carruades de Lafite has shot up in spectacular fashion over the past few years. In June 2006 you could have bought a case of 2005 Carruades for £335. Today the cheapest price on wine-searcher is £2600. This rise is entirely down to the Chinese affection for Lafite. and not through a re-evaluation of its intrinsic quality. Carruades is essentially the second wine of Château Lafite, although grapes from some parcels of vines that wouldn't go into the grand vin are included and it has a higher proportion of Merlot. In China it is apparently known as baby Lafite. All in all an example of a bubble that may or not not burst – hardly the sort of wine with which to start an investment portfolio. 

From the Encarta website:
Encarta we take great pride in helping our clients build the perfect investment portfolio of fine wine.'
'Our experts will help you source and choose the wines that represent good value.'

Encarta's price for six bottles of 2009 Carruades is £2200 (equivalent to £4400 for a case of 12).A quick look at shows that a number of companies are offering a full case (12 bottles) of Carruades at prices ranging from £2400 (Albany Vintners) to £2800 (Farr Vintners are at £2700). In this instance Encarta are a whopping 83% more expensive than the cheapest established fine wine merchant. Encarta: 'the wines that represent good value'!!

I emailed Matthew Hart asking about both the pricing and the choice of Carruades de Lafite as a starter wine for a portfolio. 

Matthew Hart's response (15.7.10): 
'You seem to pick the worst case scenarios from our company, In our opinion Carruades de lafite offers fantastic investment grade wine & returns.

What about the 2007 Lafite Rothschild that we are selling at present for £6000 are you willing to say that this is not competitive??

It seems to me that you have nothing better to do that contact us and keep checking up on our pricing structure!

I suggest you try and track down the scam companies out there that are not actually purchasing wines!!

I am sure one call to LCB and they will confirm that we have a constant stream of wine going into accounts held there.

I will not reply to any further emails that you send to us.'

My response:
Your price for 2007 Lafite is certainly more competitive than that quoted for 2009 Carruades. However, it is more expensive than any other companies currently quoted on wine-searcher.

It is also more competitive than than the example of growth sent out by Paul Stapleton on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 featuring 2007 Leoville Las Cases, 2005 Lynch-Bages and 2006 Pichon Lalande. All, particularly the Léoville las Cases and 2005 Lynch Bages well over market price.***

Although I could phone LCB and they might confirm that Encarta have an account with them, they are not going to tell me what is in the account nor what comes in and out, nor whether cases enter at a trickle or a flood. Incidentally when did Encarta open the account at LCB?
Naturally it is entirely up to you whether you respond to my questions. It remains proper that I give you the opportunity to respond.

*** I will be commenting on the example of growth sent out by Paul Stapleton in a separate post. See part 2 here.

My advice
Although they may have done a small amount before the company was founded in in July 2009, Encarta Fine Wines Ltd has no track record, particularly in relation to buying en primeur. I wouldn't advise buying en primeur from Encarta until they have established a track and trading record. Nor would I advise buying bottled wine from them until they become more competitive and cease trying to sell investments through cold calls.   

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Claremont Forbes Ltd: Collective Investment Scheme and Limited Liability Partnerships

There is an interesting article by Tony Hetherington on whether having a Limited Liability Partnership means that a land banking property company will not be classified as a collective investment scheme. A number of the UK land banking companies have been shut down on the grounds that they are a collective investment scheme and therefore come under the aegis of the Financial Services Authority, which means that those managing a CIS must have FSA approval and also offers investors some protections. 

Incidentally wine investment funds are collective investment schemes and the 1990s ostriches/ostrich eggs investment schemes were also judged to be CISs.   

Tony's article appears on Midas Extra, which is a subscription site run by Associated Newspapers. Click here for details.

Although I cannot reproduce Tony's article I can mention some of its salient points.
Claremont Forbes intends to offer investors parcels of land that already has planning permission. Each land site would be organised and managed as a Limited Liability Partnership.

Terence Farr, director of Claremont Forbes, believes that this would mean that it wasn't a collective investment and so those offering and managing it would not need to be approved and registered with the FSA (or with the Bank of England when it takes over the FSA functions). He does, however, expect that the FSA will attempt to close him down on the grounds that this is a CIS.

It is quite possible that the FSA will take a close look at this use of LLPs for land banking schemes. They are likely to want evidence that the investors are actively running the partnership and the building plot scheme. Not a question of being just a sleeping partner!  

You have to wonder how many investors will have both the inclination and the skills to be actively involved running an LLP.


Following a message I received from Terence Farr, director of Claremont Forbes Ltd, I have reviewed the comments made by his company on two earlier posts. I have made some amendments and deletions.

I have asked Terence Farr the following questions and am looking forward to his response.  I will be particularly interested in learning exactly what experience he and his 'highly experienced team' have in the property and land development market. We do know that some of the sales force including a 19-year-old do have experience selling wine while working for a company (Finbow) now under investigation by the Metropolitan Police. 

'We are a leading London based company dedicated to offering exclusive UK land development opportunities to private clients on a worldwide basis.’
From Claremont Forbes website
Since Claremont Forbes was incorporated on 29th January 2010, is the description ‘leading’ justified here?

‘At Claremont Forbes you will find a highly experienced team who take pride in offering a best-in-class service.’

What property experience do you and your team have?

From Tony Hetherington’s article on Midas Extra:
‘So, what is Claremont Forbes offering?  So far, not a lot.  The company is run by 28-year-old Terence Farr, who has never headed a limited company before.  He told me that it is offering land in Kent, but he added that it was ‘in the process of acquiring one new site as well as finalising a recent property investment club’ – so it appears there is as yet no LLP up and running that the FSA could put under the microscope.’

What land with planning permission in Kent are you offering? Also is Claremont Forbes (Margate Kent) LLP up and running.
Would agree that Tony Hetherington’s conclusion (see below) is fair comment?
‘But unless those investors know what they are doing, and perhaps have some knowledge of planning and development, and land values, it is hard to see the attraction.  And with Claremont Forbes itself anticipating a battle with the FSA, it is easier to see the downside and decide to steer clear.’

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Wine Traders International Ltd: creditors' meeting

A meeting of creditors has been called by the Official Receiver for Wednesday 28th July at 11am. It will be held at the offices of the Official Receiver, 21 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QW.

See also this earlier post.

Fine Wine Vintners Ltd: first annual return overdue

'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.'

Quote above from Fine Wine Vintners website.

'Optimise returns'? Probably a little too early to judge as the company was founded just over a year ago on 4th June 2009 but apparently unable to file its annual company return on time as require by UK company law. Some of the 'discipline' mentioned above required I'd suggest.

'There are currently opportunities for ambitious, entrepreneurial team spirited individuals, who have the zest to succeed in a high-pressure environment.'

From the careers section of the Fine Wine Vintners website.

Monday, 12 July 2010

How the most expensive vintage ever was sold

'3 Jul 2010 by Jancis Robinson/FT but this is longer
Even Bordeaux's châteaux owners themselves admit to surprise at the sky-high prices of the 2009s, in a tortuous, bad-tempered campaign designed to attract as many euros as possible to France's fine-wine capital. It is finally drawing to a close, in time for France's long holidays, with some UK merchants even suggesting 2009 prices are designed to prop up those of the 2005s.

Four years ago the prices for Bordeaux's last exceptional vintage, 2005, seemed quite extraordinarily audacious and we thought we would never see their like again. In the event, the embryonic, unbottled 2009s have been offered at prices between 50 and 100% up on 2005 opening prices, and some are even approaching 2005 current prices.' 

Read the rest here

Apparently sales to the UK have been 'massive'. How far this is for resale to Asia-Pacific remains to be seen but it is clear that a number of traditional UK buyers of en primeur have not bought this year due to the high prices. I suspect that a substantial amount of sales to the UK have been for investment. It remains to be seen how far it will be possible to sell these stock on, so generating the returns investors expect.      

Also story on on record UK 2009 en primeur sales and indicating that the Asia pacific did buy 2009s but solely at the top end:

'The story from Farrs is the same. Browett said Far East customers were responsible for more than a third of value sales, but a tiny proportion of volume.

'Sales by value have been 60% UK, 40% Far East, but by volume it's about 85% to 15%, as Far East customers have mainly bought only First Growths and "super-seconds".'

He added, 'There has been virtually no interest from the USA.''

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.