Press release

Leaving a bad taste: 11 year disqualification for director whose company ‘sold’ wine it failed to provide, and bought wine it failed to pay for

Jonothan Piper, a director of Embassy Wine UK Ltd (Embassy), a company that traded in fine wine investments, has been disqualified as a director for 11 years for causing or failing to prevent the company from selling wine to customers which it failed to provide, purchasing wine from customers which it failed to pay them for, and charging fees to customers for which no service was provided.

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Mr Piper’s disqualification from 17 November 2015 means that he cannot promote, manage, or be a director of a limited company until 2026.

Embassy was wound up Public Interest grounds after an investigation by the Insolvency Service. There then followed further investigations by a specialist team of the Insolvency Service.

The investigation showed the company was involved in a scheme to deprive investors of their savings by persuading them to invest in wine or sell their fine wine through the company. As a result, customers are owed at least £382,167.

Commenting on this case Paul Titherington, Official Receiver in the Public Interest Unit, said:

The Insolvency Service will not hesitate to use its enforcement powers to investigate and disqualify directors whose companies defraud the public.

The amount owed to customers may in fact be higher than that revealed by our investigations as the company failed to keep adequate records and there may therefore be additional customers I am presently unaware of”.

The investigation uncovered that between 28 June 2011 and 3 December 2014, Embassy traded buying and selling fine wine from individuals in the UK. As at the date of the winding up order, the company had no known assets.

Jonothan Piper was the sole de jure director of the company throughout the period of these trades.

Notes to Editors

Embassy Wine UK Ltd (CRO No. 07686061) was incorporated on 28 June 2011. Its last registered office was at 17 Ensign House, London, E14 9XQ.

Jonothan Piper is of London and his date of birth is 4 April 1986.

The petition to wind up the company was presented by the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills on Public Interest grounds. The winding up order was made against Embassy on 3 December 2014.

On 27 October 2015 the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills accepted an undertaking from Mr Piper that he would be disqualified for a period of 11 years.

A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:

  • act as a director of a company
  • take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
  • be a receiver of a company’s property

In addition that person cannot act as an insolvency practitioner and there are many other restrictions are placed on disqualified directors by other regulations.

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions is available.

The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.

Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.

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Published 17 November 2015