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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jim Budd

On 23 April, Stephen Jupe, who ran the first whisky cask investment scam, was found guilty on all four counts at the end of a trial that started at the beginning of February. The jury found him guilty on three counts of fraudulent trading and one count of using a prohibited company name. He will be sentenced on 21 May. Jupe set up Securitized Syndicated Investments (SSI), trading as Marshall Wineries, with Lewis Daulby in August 1992, and started offering casks of whisky as an investment in April 1993. Although the pair claimed years of expertise in the whisky industry, they had no drinks experience whatsoever. Rather, they had both previously worked for Fox Milton, a fraudulent firm of stockbrokers closed by The Securities Association in January 1989. Marshall's had no source of supply until August 1993, when it reached an agreement with Speyside Distillery to supply whisky that was sold as Grandtully. As Speyside was a new distillery, the whisky's potential was completely unknown. Some 2,000 investors bought virtually unsaleable whisky. Marshall Wineries turned over 3.8 million before it went bust in late November 1996. Jupe took 450,000 out of the company, which was a major contributory factor to the bankruptcy. Writer Andrew Jefford first exposed Jupe and other whisky investment frauds in an article in London newspaper the Evening Standard in November 1995, and then later in a Channel 4 television programme. During the trial, Jupe claimed that Jefford, and Mark Reynier of La Reserve, which began offering casks of Springbank in 1991, were part of a conspiracy involving the Serious Fraud Office and the Department of Trade and Industry to bring Marshall Wineries down.