Jonothan Piper, from Wanstead, has been sentenced to five and a half years? imprisonment after pleading guilty to one count of fraudulent trading, two counts of money laundering and one count of cheating HM Revenue and Customs of tax at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 22 August 2016
Piper, 30, who was the director of Embassy Wine (UK) Limited and previously traded as a land and diamonds salesman, pleaded guilty to defrauding investors out of hundreds of thousands of pounds and to failing to pay tax and National Insurance on his earnings for six years.
Investors complained that they had been mis-sold expensive wine collections and had either not received the wine they were promised or were deceived in respect of the expected returns. Many investors were then persuaded to sell their wine collections to Piper?s company, but did not receive the promised payment. An investigation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) found that the self-professed fine-wine broker had not traded legitimately at all and had set up the company simply to con investors out of approximately ?300,000.
BEIS discovered that HMRC was also conducting an investigation into Piper, and the matter was jointly prosecuted with the CPS. Piper also pocketed more than ?51,000 in Income Tax and National Insurance contributions from his undeclared earnings, between 2008 and 2014.
Deputy Chief Investigation Officer Ian West from BEIS said:
Mr Piper cynically attempted to dissolve his company Embassy Wine (UK) Limited without notifying his creditors of his intention or complying with the three month trading restriction prior to any application for the striking off/dissolution of a company, to mask his fraudulent activity. It was established that he had defrauded his companies? unsuspecting clients of in excess of ?295,000 in a wine investment scam carried out, in conjunction with other frauds against the revenue to fund his expensive lifestyle. He now has to face the serious consequences of his criminal lifestyle.
This case should serve as a warning to those that seek to utilise the Insolvency regime to further fraudulent activity, that the BEIS Criminal Enforcement Directorate, will with law enforcement partners, ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted with the full force of the law.