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Dodgy wine investment companies axed

Three wine investment companies have been closed 'in the public interest' following an investigation by the UK Department of Trade and Industry.

Following several months investigation and a High Court petition, the DTI closed down the offices of Boington & Fredericks Ltd, City Vintners Ltd and Goldman Williams Ltd on 30 November.

City Vintners and Goldman Williams were the largest of the group of companies who misled the public into buying grossly overvalued wine. A London bonded warehouse said it was holding stock for 1,456 clients of the two companies. The value of the wine it holds is over £18m (US$25m).

That £18m represents the price customers paid, while the actual value is around £8m (US$11m). But these investors are lucky – they have their wine. Recent investors may find their wine has not yet been transferred into their name.

The companies found their victims through share registers, calling them and offering what appeared to be cast-iron investments. One investor bought 1999 Latour for £4,300 (US$6,200) a case, when it is available elsewhere for £1,900 (US$2,660). He told decanter.com, ‘I was first contacted by Keith Morris, a broker at Goldman Williams. The Latour had just been upgraded from 96 to 99 but was still at the price of a 96. I fell for the line and placed an order over the phone.’

Boington & Fredericks was a much smaller outfit, due in part to its directors Anthony Grant and Frederick Achom being sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for conspiracy, persuading companies that they could get access to EU grants. Achom previously worked for City Vintners. John Davis, managing director of Trapps Cellars, a bonded warehouse at London Bridge, said they are holding £150,000 (US$210,000) stock for some 40 clients.

Written by Jim Budd13 December 2001

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