Welcome or should I say commiserations to new members caught up in the Wine investment scam. Like the whisky investment scam the fraud hinged on the question of price. Most investors received their wine and it is lying in London City Bond but they have paid 2 or 3 times the correct price. It is regrettable that the DTI took so long to close down City Vintners and Goldman Williams and only goes to emphasise the lack of suitable legal machinery to deal with fraudulent companies and individuals in a quick and effective manner.
It is illuminating that none of the wine investment
companies closed down by the DTI had credit card facilities.
Having lost over 20 million sterling in the whisky fraud the
Banks clearly recognised that these companies were
dubious and refused facilities. But they were quite happy to
run their accounts and take a cut of their profits. There's no
morality where banking is concerned.
Turning to the ongoing whisky saga - many of you will
be amazed that the directors of Napier Spirit Company
escaped prosecution. Many like me fear there has been a
cover up. It is common knowledge that certain high profile
figures had connections with the directors of Napier. Were
you invited to Ascot , Henley, the Royal Show or the many
Other exciting outings arranged for Napier investors. If you
have any information please share it with us.
Most banks are still paying out on credit card claims
but time is now very limited. Our opinion is that limitation
runs from when the fraud was discovered since it was
impossible to make a claim before that time. Certain banks
are now trying to avoid liability by arguing that under
connected lender liability time runs against them from the
date of purchase and it is only against the supplier that time
runs from the date of the discovery of the fraud. Lord
Denning would not have taken kindly to the Banks
interpretation. He believed that a judge should always ask
the question, 'If the makers of the Act had themselves come
across this nick in the texture of it, how would they have
straightened it out?' In other words the courts are here to
iron out the creases in legislation.
If you have come across this problem, please contact
me as soon as possible. You only have a few months left
before the real limitation period does run out.
Fiasco at the FSO
Napier Directors walk away "Scotch Free"
After 5 years of investigation costing tax payers millions of
pounds the S.F.O have decided not to prosecute the directors of Napier Spirit Company for conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law. According to the Solicitor General Harriet Harman OC MP "The S.F.O. consulted Leading Counsel in September 2000 and in January 2001 and he advised that he felt the case would be likely to fail. He considered the evidence available at the time as well as what evidence was likely to become available in the future. Counsel expressed doubts in relation to the strength of the case. Counsel also advised that he felt it was likely that the case would fail on the basis that the defendant could not have a fair trial "within a reasonable time". He took into account existing case law at that time in relation to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights which deals with the defendants right to a fair trial".
In December 1998 we wrote on behalf of our members to the Director of the Serious Fraud Office "It is now two years since Napier Spirit Company was closed down and while we recognise that your investigations do take time and that any fraud case is of necessity a complex matter our members who have lost millions of pounds feel aggrieved at the considerable delay in any action being taken. We have accumulated a considerable amount of "evidence" with regard to the activities of Napier and this is at your disposal if it is of any value". Tony Farries who was leading the investigation into allegations of fraud in relation to investments in whisky visited my office and took a statement from me but did not require to look at the 200/300 cases we had dealt with because "there was sufficient evidence available".
Let us examine just one case - Mr D.s file - we have a first
letter from Napier "I have pleasure in supplying details regarding the opportunities arising in the fast growing spirit investment market. All of these whiskies have been carefully chosen and we feel that each will prove to have excellent investment potential. Current predictions expect a realistic return on capital invested In the region of 15-18% per annum. With the increasing world demand for quality single malts, this figure looks set to rise". After a few phone calls Mr D. was induced to buy 2 hogsheads of "The Macallan" for £7000. Confirming the purchase Napier wrote "May I also assure you that our specialist brokers will act in your best interests to bring to your attention other investment opportunities arising in the future to give you the maximum chance to expand your investment portfolio."
But "The Macallan" wasn't "The Macallan" - it was whisky
produced by Macallan in second or third fill oak casks and used for blending - worth at best £500 per cask. Mr D's case
not unfortunately an isolated case many investors bough
Napier '5 "Macallan.
It is strange that the SF0 successfully prosecuted the
directors of Hamilton Spirit Management Co. yet find
impossible to find sufficient evidence against Napier for the
same scam. The brochures, the documentation, the sale
methods, the malts sold, the letters written, the telephone
sales techniques all were basically similar. The result in both
cases was the same - the directors made money from the
scam the investors lost money. So Stephen Cleeve
Stephen Dunne, Alma Dunne Haley, McConville and Quinn
the main participants in the Napier scam can all sleep easy
tonight knowing they can keep their ill-gotten gains.
Geoffrey Baxter, an investor with Napier who has lost
over 24000 pounds in the scam was apoplectic about this
decision, "In March 1997 I implored the police to go and
arrest the Napier gang who were now operating as
Millennium Spirit Management Company from Pentax
House. They refused and I was told in no uncertain terms
that if I went there and caused a fracas they would arrest
me". He added "How have the authorities allowed the
Napier Gang to walk away scot free having swindled more
than 1000 honest tax paying citizens like myself of millions
of pounds. I demand an explanation".
July 2002 Newsletter