Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 4 January 2013

Vinance plc: 'criminal disregard' for investors' money

Château Cheval Blanc 

The four directors – Paul Timothy Hayward Ford, Simon John Ford, Michael Alexander Wallen and Simon Antony Earl – of failed wine investment company, Vinance plc, ought to be acutely uncomfortable reading the administrators’ report released by Herron Fisher on 17th  December 2012. It is clear from the report that the company records were both ‘inadequate’ and ‘incomplete’.  So poor were records that it has not yet been possible to establish exactly how much is owed to investors. 
Herron Fisher estimates that some £5 million worth of wine is owed to Vinance’s clients, which totaled some 1300.  It is still not known how many of these are creditors. The company did buy wine, quite often from its clients. ‘Often, the company would itself buy wine from clients with a view to selling it to other clients. In this way, it accumulated a large quantity of stock which belonged to the company itself.’ This stock is estimated to be worth around £3 million. Herron Fisher is reluctant to sell this wine until the true position vis à vis the investors and their wine is known.

The report indicates that the directors were criminally negligent with their clients' investments, especially as it is highly likely that clients sold other investments/savings in order to buy wines that they were not allocated or in some cases not immediately bought. I use ‘criminally negligent’ is a broad not legal sense here. The directors promoted Vinance plc as an investment company able to offer its clients good returns on their wine purchased from them. Yet they cared so little about their investors’ financial health that they failed to put in place proper records. 

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