UK government axes investment fraud company

  • Tuesday 28 September 2004

The UK government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has closed a fraudulent wine investment company worth £1m.

On Monday 20 September the DTI petitioned successfully in London's High Court to have Churchill Wines Ltd closed down in the public interest. This is the seventeenth such company the DTI has closed since 1998.

Churchill Wines started trading in September 2002. Its sole director was Malcolm Hills, previously company secretary of James Hewitt Associates Ltd – another fraudulent company closed by the DTI in September 2002.

Churchill purported to trade from an accommodation address in Tunbridge Wells but was actually based in Croydon in SE London. It claimed to offer only Bordeaux wines that had 96 Parker points or more and is believed to have made over £1m.

The DTI has been very active in its pursuit of such businesses. Since autumn 2003 its website has had a section on investment scams and their warnings may be paying off.

'There has been a sharp decline in the number of complaints relating to the Claret Web,’ a spokesman for the DTI told decanter.com. The Claret Web is so-called because many of the companies offering fraudulent deals are interrelated.

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