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

Sunday, 11 January 2015

1855/Héraclès finally bust but many, many questions remain to be answered!

Emeric Sauty de Chalon  
Founder and PDG of 1855 renamed Héraclès 

 August 2012: 1855 on France2 – labelled ARNAQUE

Fabien Hyon, managing director of 1855 – Héraclès group 

Last Friday's final collapse into liquidation of Héraclès/1855 is good news as Hélène Poulou, the tenacious Bordeaux lawyer who has pursued this scam for a number of years, says.

Whether her nearly 400 clients will get much of the around €5 million, excluding damages, they are owed is another question. Poulou's clients paid around €1.2 million for wine they never received. The figure of €5 million is based on the current value of the wine ordered as well as the various fines that were imposed on the Héraclès group due to their failure to deliver.

How much, if any, of the more than €40 million claimed by over 11,000 clients of this long-running scam will they ever see?

Two of a host of questions that the long-running scandal of 1855/Héraclès raises.  

Here are a few more:

1855's failure to deliver wines, especially en primeur Bordeaux, date back at least to the 2002 vintage. Although the serious problems started following the 2005 vintage, when the prices shot up and Hyon and Chalon's decision to sell short blew up in their faces – or strictly speaking in the faces of their unfortunate clients. Yet despite an ever increasing volume of complaints, legal action and coverage in the media – print, TV and on-line, Hyon and Chalon were permitted to continue to fleece their clients to the end of 2014. 

Why wasn't this scam closed down much earlier?

Why no action from the Répression des Fraudes despite receiving complaints dating back years? 11,000 clients fleeced to the tune of over €40 million would seem to be reasonably significant.....

Héraclès/1855 went into administration in October 2013. Although it was clear that Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon were a pair of deliquents and not fit to run any business, the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris allowed them to continue to involved in running the company.    
Did Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon enjoy hidden high-level protection from within the French establishment? Did having Jean-Pierre Meyers as a long time shareholder perhaps provide them with a shield?

Did this protection extend into the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris who inexplicably waved through the innumerate and clearly inadequate business recovery plan. The mysterious PLF1 group based in Luxembourg offered only a total of €2.5 million yet the claimed debts totalled over €40 million. The €2.5 million was to be paid in two tranches – €1 million and then a further €1.5 million once the recovery plan had been accepted. Many clients who had ordered Bordeaux Cru Classés were to be palmed off with bottles of 2012 Bordeaux Supérieur, while the larger creditors were to be repaid over 8 years with the repayments weighted towards the end of the repayment period. 

In September 2014 the Tribunal accepted the assurances of an apparent 'representative' of PLF1 that the promised funds would be forthcoming. Yet in early December 2014 PLF1 informed the Tribunal that the person who gave the court the assurances back in September did not work or speak for PLF1!

Little is known of the shadowy PLF1. Was this a desperate late ditch ruse by Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon? Or was it, perhaps, a life boat constructed by one or more of Chalon and Hyon's well connected former shareholders?  

Despite all this why did the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris become complicit in this long-running scam when they gave Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon the green light to go on their merry ways and continue to fleece their unfortunate clients? 

Is the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris always this incompetent or was this a one off?    
Will French justice now at long last catch up with the two delinquents – Hyon and Sauty de Chalon? Will there now be a serious investigation into what happened to all the money paid to Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon's companies for wine that was never bought or delivered? Did Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon simply just trouser large dollops of cash or was it spent on glamorous parties and launches?  
Earlier post on the liquidation.

A suivre! 


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