Press release

Wine broker wound up for delivering empty promises

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 State’s petition for seeking to wind up the company were fully justified, and on that basis the company was compulsorily wound up.

Notes to Editors

Embassy Wine (UK) Ltd, Co. registration number 07686061, was incorporated on 28 June 2011.

The petition to wind up the company was presented in the High Court on 3 October 2014 under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 following confidential enquiries by Company Investigations under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.

Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

Further information about live company investigations ia 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.

By virtue of the winding up orders all public enquiries concerning the affairs of the companies should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT. Telephone: 0207 637 1110 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.