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1855.com and president fined by French financial watchdog

France's financial markets authority has fined collapsed wine investment firm Heracles, previously called 1855.com, and its president a total of 350,000 euros for misleading investors.

Heracles, which was placed in liquidation in January this year, gave false information to the Paris stock exchange, said the financial markets authority (AMF).

The watchdog fined Heracles, previously named 1855.com, 200,000 euros. It also fined the firm’s founder and president, Emeric Sauty de Chalon, 150,000 euros. The fines could have been much higher, but the AMF said took into account the financial situation of the company.

Several wine collectors have been incensed by the plight of Heracles. Before the firm went into liquidation, around 11,000 creditors submitted claims totalling more than 40m euros against the company.

The AMF started its investigation in February 2012, looking at statements to the Paris stock exchange from the end of 2009. The watchdog said it found that financial statements that 1855.com claimed had been audited were not.

The company’s financial health was consistently overstated in its accounts for 2009, 2010 and 2011, and the company failed to properly explain the possible consequences of the numerous lawsuits brought by frustrated clients over its failure to deliver Bordeaux en primeur wines, the authority added.

It also said that Sauty de Chalon broke stock exchange rules when 1855.com bought Cave Privee in July 2010 but didn’t announce the deal until November that year. Cave Privee‘s financial performance was also overtstated.

Sauty de Chalon has maintained that he did not benefit financially through 1855.com’s failure to supply wines that its customers ordered.

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Written by Jim Budd

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