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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Boltons Investments Ltd: goes into liquidation

Boltons Investments home page: 12th September 2013


Please see update at end of this post.

The possibility is growing that Boltons Investments Ltd is the latest wine investment company to disappear. Its website is no longer accessible – only a note saying – 'Page not found'. The company phone (020-7491 9959) is no longer being answered – just a message saying 'all the team are busy' and inviting the caller to leave a message. I have left my details and asked them to let me know if they are still trading.

There are a couple of very recent threads on forums – Wine Pages and Cellar Tracker – started by worried investors unable to contact Boltons Investments Ltd.

Boltons Investments Ltd was set up in September 2006 and recently has traded from 11 Maddox Street, London W1S 2QF. It was originally called Bordeaux Connoisseurs Ltd. 
Its founder and sole director is 39-year-old Vincenzo Tagliavia. Back in April 2010 there was a curious company swap. A company called Boltons Investments Ltd, set up on 14th November 2009, changed name to Bordeaux Connoisseurs Ltd, while at the same time Bordeaux Connoisseurs Ltd became Boltons Investments Ltd. The renamed Bordeaux Connoisseurs Ltd was dissolved on 28th June 2011. Rather than a double swap it would presumably been easier just to change the company name.  

On Google it is claimed that: Boltons Investments™ is the leading, low cost fine wine broker specialising in En Primeur, cellar acquisitions, valuations and sales. We are also focussing ...'

From 
information on Duedil, Boltons Investment's financial health looks uncertain. The company has £59.2K in the bank; its current liabilities are 313.1K with assets of £202K, and a book value of - £273.1K.

I trust that Vincenzo Tagliavia's Boltons Investments Ltd have bought all the wine that its clients ordered and that his clients will find it easy to take possession of their wine.  

I invite Vincenzo Tagliavia to contact me to clarify the situation, especially as he has contacted me on several occasions in the past to assure me that his company is properly run.   
    
13th September: Update 
Vincenzo Tagliavia's Boltons Investments Ltd has gone into liquidation. A letter to creditors was sent out by Wilkins Kennedy, 92 London Street, Reading RG1 4SJ (Tel: 0118-951 2131) on 9th September  the day they were appointed. The creditors' meeting will be held on Thursday 26th September at Wilkins Kennedy's Central London offices: Bridge House, London SE1 9QR at 11.15. The financial position should then be clearer. 

Boltons Investments Ltd has three accounts at London City Bond. There are two trading accounts – one at Tilbury and one at Vinotheque, Burton-on-Trent – and another with clients sub accounts. At present it is not known whether it will be possible to identify clients' wine in the trade accounts nor whether all the wine ordered was bought.     

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The London Vines Ltd – action group + some diamond geezers

Some investors in The London Vines Ltd, which appears to have ceased trading and has disappeared, are looking to form an action group. Any clients of The London Vines Ltd, who would be interested in joining such a group, should email me on budmac@btinternet.com and I will put you in touch with the organisers.

I'm pleased to report that the action group is growing steadily.

***

I understand that at least one client of The London Vines Ltd has been cold called by a company called Johnston & Carter Ltd (website registered: 24th January 2013), who offered to buy their wines. Perhaps they would be offered the opportunity to buy coloured diamonds as Johnston & Carter 'is based in the City of London, our speciality is dealing with diamond trades offering our clients a professional and unique service'. Furthermore 'Combining experience, foresight and strategic intelligence of movement in the market here at Johnston & Carter we pride ourselves with speciality in dealing with diamond trades,' – pretty good for a company that was set up on 26th November 2012 under the name Far East Elements Ltd. The company became Johnston & Carter Ltd on 12th February 2013.

During its less than ten month life Johnston & Carter Ltd has had three directors. Firstly 25-year-old Pablo Vega (26th November 2012 - 4th March 2013), then 20-year-old Frank Sullivan (5th March 2013 - 15th July 2013) followed by 43-year-old Bradley Wright (15th July to the present). All I'm sure diamond geezers.

Johnston & Carter's registered office is 45 King William Street, London EC4R 9AN – a serviced office complex. On Duedil this is also their trading office. On their diamond website, the contact address is Westone Business Service Ltd, Unit 36, 88-90 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8PN – a virtual office. 

Although I'm sure that coloured diamonds look stunning on a white knight, I would be very wary of cold calls from unknown companies offering to buy wines that have been bought from The London Vines Ltd. 
 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Nouveau World Wines/Finbow Wines: breaking news – Daniel Snelling jailed 7.5 years, Rebecca McDonald: 3 years

Daniel Snelling gets 7.5 years jail

His Honour Judge Grieve QC sentenced Daniel Snelling to 7.5 years imprisonment on conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. He also banned Snelling from acting as a director for 15 years and issued a five year serious crime prevention order against him. Taking the four counts individually Snelling was sentenced to a total of 17 years. However, as they will run concurrently he will only serve 7.5 years, which was the most serious sentence and given on conspiracy to defraud in relation to Finbow Wines Ltd.

This crime prevention order will come into force on Snelling's release from prison and essentially mean that his life will be under surveillance: having to disclose emails, his financial affairs, buying internet domains, etc. to the police. This should make it difficult for Daniel Snelling to reoffend at least for the first five years after his release from prison. It is likely to have more affect than his ban as a director as shadow directors are commonly used and there is nothing to stop a banned director running a partnership as this does not contravene the ban as Stephen Cleeve demonstrated by flogging worthless plots of agricultural land through European Land Sales.    

Rebecca McDonald was sentenced to three years for conspiracy to defraud in relation to Finbow. Snelling and McDonald can be released on licence once they have served half their sentences.

In his remarks His Honour Judge Grieve QC rejected Dorian Lovell-Pank's plea on behalf of Snelling that the clients of Nouveau and Finbow were sophisticated investors. Grieve said that many of them were 'elderly and vulnerable'. He did accept that Nouveau World Wines Ltd was originally a legitimate company but soon became fraudulent. Given Daniel Snelling's track record, including working for Wine Orb in Australia as well as for Andrew Dunne at Countrywide, I find this an unlikely proposition, although it may well have become increasingly fraudulent as time went on. 

Judge Grieve said that Snelling had used the proceeds to fund an extravagant life-style – expensive rented flats in Docklands, prestige cars including an Aston Martin, frequent travel and even more frequent wads of cash. He also said that Daniel Snelling was largely responsible for the predicament that Dina Snelling and Rebecca McDonald now find themselves in.   

In sentencing Rebecca McDonald Judge Grieve cited her role as book keeper at Finbow, which included providing a false audit trail. He accepted that she probably wasn't knowingly involved from the start of Finbow – "an out and out fraud" – and that her involvement may have only have lasted a couple of months. He accepted that she was previously of "impeccable character" and that apart from her salary she did not benefit materially from the fraud. He also accepted that the chance of her reoffending was "very remote". 

There was considerable surprise and shock amongst Rebecca McDonald's 20 or more supporters when her sentence was announced. I had thought that she might get a suspended sentence but it may be that the minimum sentence that can be given for conspiracy to defraud makes this impossible.

It is difficult to see that McDonald's sentence is proportional in the light of the 7.5 years given to Daniel Snelling, however, McDonald's sentence does send out a message that if you suspect you are involved in a fraud get out quickly and report your suspicions through Action Fraud, for example.

In the light of McDonald's three years on one count of conspiracy to defraud,  it looks likely that Dina Snelling could be facing five years or more when she is sentenced on 11th October on two counts of conspiracy.

I have to wonder why Daniel Snelling thought it was a good idea to plead not guilty and go through all the long trial, when an early guilty plea would have meant a reduced sentence.                 

      

 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Nouveau World Wines/ Finbow sentencing fiasco

Daniel Snelling

In a surprise development the sentencing of Daniel Snelling on all four counts in the Nouveau World Wines Ltd/Finbow Wines Ltd fraud and Rebecca McDonald in respect to conspiracy to defraud in relation to Finbow Wines Ltd has been adjourned until tomorrow afternoon – around 2pm at Court 3.

A crowded Court 3 at Southwark Crown Court was stunned when His Honour Judge Grieve QC announced around 3.45pm that sentencing would have to be delayed because all Southwark courts could not continue beyond 4pm today due apparently to a community event. There were shouts of "you must be joking" from the public galleries, which included some 20 family and friends present to support Rebecca McDonald.

The sentencing hearing started a little after 2pm and by just after 3.30pm the Judge had heard submissions from the Crown and pleas of mitigation from counsel for Daniel Snelling and Rebecca McDonald. The court then rose for the judge to consider these submissions. His Honour Judge Grieve returned ten minutes later to make his bombshell announcement. He apologised profusely for the anguish this delay will cause the defendants but the circumstances were beyond his control.  

This very unfortunate delay was obviously particularly distressing for Rebecca McDonald. 

Dina Snelling was not present in court – she has been suffering from severe depression and was admitted briefly to hospital last week. She will be seeing a psychiatrist on 19th September. Dina Snelling will be sentenced once the judge receives the psychiatrist's report –  the sentencing date has been fixed for 11th October.

In relation to Daniel Snelling the Crown has applied that he be banned from serving as a UK director  – the maximum ban is 15 years. Also that a Serious Crime Prevention Order be issued against him and for this to apply from the time of his release from prison. Under a Serious Crime Prevention Order Snelling would have to reveal all of his financial transactions to the police. 

The process of issuing confiscation orders against the Snellings and McDonald has been set in train. 

The trial date for 32-year-old Kelly Humphreys, Daniel Snelling's girl friend, and 39-year-old William (Billy) Alan Davies has been fixed for 2nd June 2014. It is estimated to last three to four weeks. Humphreys is charged with three counts: conspiracy to defraud in relation to both Nouveau World Wines Ltd and Finbow Wines Ltd as well as money laundering (Count 3 – see charges here). Davies is charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to Finbow Wines Ltd – he had no involvement in Nouveau.

Humphreys was originally due to stand trial with the others but was severed from the trial as she was pregnant. Davies was only found by the police and arrested on 13th August. He is now on bail with a surety of £100,000. Humphreys and Davies have pleaded not guilty.
             




Saturday, 7 September 2013

Serial and master fraudster Paul Freeman returns with Wines World Wide Ltd

Paul Freeman in Mauritius 

Paul Freeman beside a beach in Mauritius 
Doubtless his many US medical clients will be heartened to see that 
Paul Freeman enjoys a tolerable lifestyle 

48-year-old Paul Freeman (DOB: 9.9.1964) has recently set up Wines World Wide Ltd based in Peterborough, Freeman’s home town.

Paul Freeman could be considered a benefactor of American doctors. He has dedicated much of his life to alleviate their potential back problems by fraudulently thinning their wallets.  

Freeman, along with Anil Knoli, was the architect of the remarkably successful Ocean-Seed (Ocean International Marketing/Seed International) scam, which brought in hundreds of millions of dollars. Wine was one of its main strands, firstly Champagne and then Bordeaux. Although the main office was in Rotterdam, there was an office in London's Mayfair and Ernest Saunders of 
Guinness fame was for a while employed as a consultant.

More recently Freeman and others were peddling 'worthless' shares in medical companies such as British Medical Trust Company Ltd based in Mauritius, which led to a court case in Tennessee*.  The case was brought by 88-year-old Dr Harry Peeler against the British Medical Trust Company Ltd (based in Mauritius), Paul Freeman, Beth Freeman (Pauls wife), Carly Freeman (Pauls daughter), Ryan Ferreira, Global Biohealth Solutions Ltd and Daniel Barlett.

Paul Freeman too busy with the BBQ (full-time job!) in Mauritius 
to acknowledge or attend court case in Tennessee

In September 2009 Peeler was induced to invest $100,000 in stock of British Medical Trust Company, which was alleged to participate in a joint venture with Apollo Bramwell Hospital (Moka, Mauritius). In April 2010 he was told that his initial $100,000 investment had appreciated to $149,819.67'.

Although the British Medical Trust Company Ltd sounds impressive, the reality is rather different – ‘to date Peeler has failed to find any legitimate business function of BMTC. It maintains no registered agent or office in Mauritius and seemingly operates on the whim of its agents, specifically Freeman and Ferreira. Its phones do not operate. It is not registered in Tennnessee, and it is not registered to sell securities with the SEC or Tennessee Securities Division. 
In essence BMTC only exists on paper – the paper provided to Peeler from Ferreira and Freeman to induce the transfer of assets. It is reasonable to believe BMTC is a shell entity used to assist the individual Defendants in perpetrating this fraud with any funds distributed among them.’

Beth Maria Freeman celebrating 
the arrival of Dr Peeler's $100,000?

‘Freeman and Ferreira, by mail, facsimile, phone, and in person, disseminated false and fraudulent information in order to induce Peeler to purchase stock.’ ‘Fraud and negligent misrepresentation constitute a part of the defendants’ statutory violations. The inappropriate conduct of the defendants was plainly meant to induce Peeler to relinquish funds while receiving no benefit whatsoever. Defendants delivered fraudulent documents and information relating to his “investment” and, after several failed attempts to gain more money, went silent and nearly disappeared. Peeler ceased receiving any correspondence from the Defendants and has not received any return of the funds.’

Paul Freeman – day out on yacht, Mauritius

Peeler filed his suit on 24th October 2011. Although the Defendants were served with process around 4th March 2012, ‘to date, have failed to answer or otherwise defend this suit’.  

Wines World Wide Ltd was incorporated 1st July 2013. Its registered office is 23 Admiral House, Rivergate, Peterborough PE1 1ES, United Kingdom – given on 192 as an address for Paul Freeman but not on Electoral Roll. Paul Freeman is the sole director and is also is the sole shareholder with 100 shares@£1.

The company appears not to have fired up yet – there is no website. It is 
not known whether Freeman will be present in Peterborough or from wherever the company will trade. If he does spent time in Peterborough or the UK he will need to install a good boiler to keep himself, after spells in Monte Carlo and Tamarin in Mauritius, and his telesales staff good and warm.

I would certainly run a mile from any enterprise that involved Paul Freeman.  

* Source for information about Tennessee case: Order granting motion for preliminary injunction issued by US District Court for Western District of Tennessee 14th November 2012 by Daniel Breen, US District Judge.

A duo of fraudsters: Paul and Beth Maria Freeman


Update (17th August 2014): annual return for Wines World Wide Ltd has been overdue since 29th July 2014.