Wine Name:

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Banned directors - Guy Hemphill and Nick Stein – start up Hillgate Associates LLP



Guy Francis Hemphill (DOB: 22.3.1966) and Nicholas Martin Stein (DOB: 24.2.1956) banned from being company directors due to Land Heritage (UK) Ltd land banking scam.  Ban runs from 12th May 2010 to 11th May 2017.

Despite being banned directors they have set up Hillgate Associates LLP (incorporated 5th May 2015), which has two branches –  Ebury Wealth and wine-traders. 

Ebury Wealth: 

Ebury Wealth – business and personal financial solutions 

'Additionally, Ebury is able to offer financial solutions for personal financial planning. This could range from Tax Planning to starting a SIPP. Where appropriate this draws on Ebury’s connectivity to the Wealth Management and IFA community, working with IFA’s regularly featuring in the New Model Advisor Top 100. Our financial advisors are selected not only on their investment expertise but also based on approach and attitude, to ensure that we can provide a perfect fit for our clients.

Whether you are looking to generate and sustain wealth creation in your business or to consolidate personally with financial or investment advice, Ebury Wealth offers a holistic personalised approach across a full range of financial service goals.'

Important disclaimers on Ebury Wealth site: 

'Ebury Wealth accepts no responsibility or liability for loss which may arise from accessing or relying on information or ideas contained within this site or provided by a third party as a result of an introduction from Ebury Wealth. Ebury Wealth is not authorised by the FCA and does not offer investment advice.'

' (sic) is an independent marketing website which only acts as an introducer to companies who offer Financial Advice. Companies on our network are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. are not authorised to give any advice and we are not liable for any financial advice provided by, or obtained through a third party.'

'personal financial solutions' – 'not authorised by the FCA and does not offer investment advice'
I'm a little confused here. Ebury Wealth LLP claims to offer personal financial solutions but is not authorised or regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and doesn't give any financial advice. if it really doesn't give financial advice how then can it offer 'personal financial solutions'?   

Wine Traders 

'Wine Traders was formed by a small team with both financial qualifications from the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and wine qualifications from Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). Our vision is to enable investors who have an interest in laying down fine wine to do so with greater transparency and better prices.'

Curiously no mention that the two officers – Guy Hemphill and Nick Stein – were directors of collapsed UK Heritage (UK) Ltd and are currently banned from being directors from 12th May 2010 to 11th May 2017.

NB: Wine Traders has no connection with Winetraders (UK) Ltd established in 1998. 

It is extraordinary that two banned directors – Guy Hemphill and Nick Stein – can set up an LLP offering wine investments and 'personal financial solutions'! 

I'll certainly steer well clear of Hillgate Associates LLP, Ebury Wealth and Wine Traders    

Friday, 20 May 2016

Diamond rip off results in 13-year ban for director – Craig Phillip O’Driscoll

Soothing false reassurance ....

Read the small print

Craig Phillip O'Driscoll of Ethical Elegance Ltd banned for 13 years
Press release
Diamond rip off results in 13-year ban for director

First published: 18 May 2016
Director disqualified for 13 years for giving false information to customers and failing to keep proper company books and records.

An investigation by the Insolvency Service has resulted in Craig Phillip O’Driscoll, director of failed investment company Ethical Elegance Limited, being disqualified by the High Court for giving false information to customers to persuade them to transfer valuable wines to the company in exchange for diamonds, and for failing to keep proper company records.
Ethical Elegance Ltd, which operated out of rented addresses in Bromley and Dartford in Kent, traded by offering diamonds to customers in exchange for fine wine assets and by promising to then sell the diamonds on the customers’ behalf.

The Insolvency Service’s investigations found that between May 2013 and August 2013 at least 7 customers were persuaded to transfer wines to the company after being offered diamonds stated to be worth over £240,000. But after transferring their wines none of the customers received any proceeds from the sale of diamonds. Instead customers were sent diamonds in the post, but the values of these were a fraction of the amounts promised. Ethical Elegance Ltd went into liquidation on 29 October 2013 owing debts of over £215,000 to customers.

The investigations also found that Mr O’Driscoll failed to provide any accounting records for Ethical Elegance Ltd to the Liquidators. Without the records it has not been possible to explain expenditure of over £177,000 made from the company’s bank account or to trace diamonds costing over £16,000.

Mr O’Driscoll (33) of Bromley, Kent was disqualified by an order made in the High Court on 13 April 2016, which prevents him from acting as a director of a company for 13 years from 4 May 2016.

Commenting on the disqualifications, Martin Gitner, Deputy Head Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

"Mr O’Driscoll was responsible for the company making false promises to people to persuade them to enter into agreements. He was also responsible for the company failing to keep or produce proper accounting records, the absence of which means that not all the company’s funds and assets can be traced.

Consumers and the wider business community need protection from people who operate companies in such unscrupulous ways.

This disqualification should serve as a warning that if directors behave in this way their conduct will be investigated and they will be removed from the business environment."

Notes to editors
Ethical Elegance Ltd (CRO No. 05978081) was incorporated on 25 October 2006 and was dormant till it commenced trading in March 2013.

Craig Phillip O’Driscoll was appointed as director on 4 March 2013 and remained the sole director thereafter. His date of birth is 28 May 1983.

The company’s registered office address was 145-157 St John’s Street, London EC1V 4PW. The company operated out of rented properties in Bromley and Dartford in Kent.

The company traded by offering to exchange customers’ fine wine investment assets for diamonds and to sell the diamonds on the customers’ behalf. Between May 2013 and August 2013 at least seven customers entered into asset exchange agreements with the company whereby the customers transferred wine assets to the company after being offered diamonds stated to be worth £243,284. The customers’ wines were sold by the company for a total of £128,407. The company failed to acquire diamonds to the values offered to the customers and it failed to sell any diamonds on behalf of customers. The total cost of diamonds purchased by Ethical Elegance Ltd amounted to £44,458. Some of the customers were sent diamonds in the post, but the values of these were substantially below the amounts that had been promised to customers to induce them to enter into the agreements in the first place.

The company entered into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on 29 October 2013. Its assets totalled £3,527 and its liabilities totalled £239,600, giving a deficiency of £236,073. No accounting records for Ethical Elegance Ltd were provided to the Liquidators. In the absence of accounting records it was not possible to explain and account for expenditure from the bank account totalling £177,257 or to trace diamonds purchased by the company costing £16,411.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

RST Contracts Ltd and a Russian 'buyer' + compare & contrast

On Monday I was contacted by a senior member of the fine wine trade with the following query about RST Contracts Ltd:  

'I wanted to ask you if you have come across the above company? ( I have just been reading your February post on London Commodity Exchange with interest. I have a client who lost a lot of wine/money in the Bordeaux Fine Wine saga, and has been repeatedly contacted by RST Contracts who claim that they have c. £250k of his wine, that they have a Russian buyer for it and that he needs to pay c. £40k VAT – refundable – in advance and he will then be sent the proceeds.'

I contacted David Ingram and Hannah Davie at Grant Thornton, who are dealing with the winding up of Bordeaux Fine Wine Ltd. Ingram had told me back in February that there were no stocks of wine magically lying outside the UK:

'We have undertaken a comprehensive forensic exercise on the little wine that was actually purchased by Bordeaux Fine Wines and are satisfied that it has been accounted for. There is certainly no stocks of wine overseas.' David Ingram (February 2016.

On Tuesday Hannah Davie of Grant Thornton replied: 

'I confirm that we have heard from several creditors of Bordeaux who have been contacted by RST Contracts advising that they have identified their wine, which they can sell for them to Russian or off shore investors, for an upfront fee.

One creditor in particular asked RST Contracts for documentation to evidence they had located his wine and the identity of the purchaser etc, but was not provided with anything from RST.'

Grant Thornton's view is that this story about a 'Russian buyer' is another example of advance fee fraud associated with the non-purchase of stocks of wine by Bordeaux Fine Wine Ltd. 


RST Contracts Ltd was incorporated on 9th April 2013. There are four current directors: Albert Sidney Brown (DOB: 11.1948 – software engineer), Caroline Clarke (DOB: March 1953 – management accountant), Maxine Matthews (DOB: October 1967 – administrator) and Kenneth Peter Ward (DOB: February 1953 – director). Share capital as of 1.6.2015 was £1 held by Peter Kenneth Ward. The registered office and trading address is: 33 New Barn Street, London, E13 8JZ – a residential address in Plaidstow. Accounts to 30.4.2014) for a dormant company were filed on 4.11.14. The latest accounts (30.4.2015) show net assets of £1,753,063.

The website for RST Contracts Ltd was registered on 17.2.2016. 


Websites: Compare and contrast – Amphora Portfolio Management – RST Contracts Ltd
RST Contracts and their four directors are clearly advocates of recycling as a comparison between their website and that of Amphora Portfolio Management shows that much if not all of the RST website has been copied word for word from Amphora. See below.

RST Contracts Ltd have used Amphora's material without permission. David Jackson, a director of Amphora Portfolio Management Ltd, wrote to the directors of RST Contracts Ltd on 9th May 2016 requiring them to undertake by the end of Wednesday 11th May 2016 to cease using the material and to seek his permission for any future use. RST have until close of business on Friday 13th May 2016 or face the possibility of legal action.   

Why Amphora?: 

Why RST Contracts Ltd?:

It would seem that the directors of RST Contracts Ltd have yet to master the full intricacies of find and replace as they have forgotten to fully replace here – '.... but at Amphora we argue ....'     Oops!! 


I will certainly steer well clear of RST Contracts Ltd no matter how persuasive their promises of Russian buyers may sound ..... 

Update: 17th May 2016

RST Contracts Ltd website has been taken down by its ISP. See comments.