Embassy Wine (UK) Ltd, which claimed it was a fine wine broker, was wound up in the High Court on 3 December 2014, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Embassy Wine (UK) Ltd, incorporated in June 2011, claimed on its now defunct website, www.embassywineuk.com , that:
It was an expert within the wine industry
That investors could see 30% returns on individual bottles purchased
The company offered a diverse portfolio of wines for purchase, storage and onward sale on behalf of its customers.
The court found that those claims were baseless, and that the company had failed to pay promised returns to customers who had paid the company directly for wine or who had transferred their wine portfolios to be managed and sold on by the company.
The company also took in substantial deposits from customers, on the false basis that those deposits were required to lodge wines in bonded warehouses or upfront fees in order to sell on wine portfolios. No deposits and no upfront fees had been returned to any known customers. In a number of instances customers, including a 94 year old victim at the time of his dealings with the company, had paid over sums of over 30,000 to the company.
The court found that the company had substantively been run for the benefit of its sole director, Jonothan (sic) Piper, who treated company bank accounts as effectively his own personal accounts. Mr Piper had no previous experience in the wine industry, having been a labourer. Mr Piper failed to provide any meaningful co-operation with the investigators, and was found to have lied to investigators in respect of a number of matters, including as to how many company bank accounts there had been.
Giving judgement, Registrar Jones stated that the grounds in the Secretary of States petition for seeking to wind up the company were fully justified, and on that basis the company was compulsorily wound up.