England's High Court has ordered Prestige Fine Wine Ltd to be closed in the public interest after a hearing that also included allegations that the firm used false data to persuade people to invest in wine, including an elderly man with Alzheimer's.
Prestige Fine Wine Ltd was wound up in the public interest on 16 December, at the request of the Insolvency Service.
Its petition was uncontested by the firm, which was placed in liquidation in October. It was wound up for ‘its lack of commercial probity’, failure to keep financial records and because it had disappeared.
But, the High Court also heard allegations of wine investment fraud against Prestige Fine Wine. High Court registrar Sally Barber called the company ‘pernicious’.
The company was founded in March 2010 with £1 share capital. The initial director was 46-year-old Glenn Barrington Ward, who resigned in September 2014. He was replaced by 24-year-old Ibrahim Tarkou.
Potential investors were cold called and told that the value of their wines would increase dramatically within a year. Some were quoted 15%, others a minimum of 20%, but these figures were fictional and based on no data, the court heard.
Investors were misled by false portfolio reports, which showed that their wines had increased from between 3.2% to 5.4% in less than a month. The court heard of one investor buying another £10,000-worth within days of receiving his report.
‘Most perniciously’ an elderly man, suffering from Alzheimer’s was persuaded to buy £150,000 worth of non-existent shares in the company, it was claimed at the High Court hearing.
Some £2m passed through the company’s bank account. Of this, £963,000 was identified by investigators as personal expenditure, the court was told.
Prestige Fine Wine Ltd’s registered office was Airport House, Purley Way, Croydon. There was no response from the company to the winding up petition, the Insolvency Service said.