Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Wine investment fraud unraveled in insolvency court

Published:  30 November, 2015

Eight inter-linked companies that fraudulently sold wine investments and carbon benefit units have been forcibly wound up in the high court, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

The court was told how investors were cold called and high-pressure sales techniques used to persuade people to invest.

Potential investors were assured by Blakeney Bridge that any investment would be safe and that by investing they would be "picking the pockets" of the biggest spenders in Russia and China.

The wine sold to investors was marked up by up to 89% of the price paid by Blakeney Bridge. At least £1.5 million was raised from the sale of wine to the public for investment.

"Trust is quite an issue in any business," Blakeney said on its website. "Trust can't be wished for, it has to be earned, and the way to earn it is by giving our clients the best advice and getting them the best price - always."

The linked companies were London Carbon Neutral Ltd, Blakeney Bridge Wine Ltd, Blakeney Bridge Ltd, Savi IT Ltd and KMD Energy Solutions Ltd which were all based in Croydon; Earthsky Ltd which was based in Chelmsford; and two British Virgin Island companies Consolidated Carbon Projects Ltd and WK Investments Holdings Ltd.

One vulnerable couple were bullied into allowing London Carbon Neutral to look after all of their financial affairs. All of their mail was directed to the company, which systematically deprived them of all their life savings of £1.2 million.

Chris Mayhew, company investigations supervisor for the service, said: "This was a significant boiler-room operation with sales companies here being located at Airport House Business Centre in Croydon and described to my investigators as easy to locate because their offices had 'all the Porsches outside'.

"Investors not persuaded to buy carbon benefit units were sold wine instead and vice versa.

"The Insolvency Service will not allow rogue companies to rip-off vulnerable and honest people and, working closely with other regulators, we will investigate abuses and close down companies if they are found to be operating or about to operate against the public interest."

The companies operated out of Airport House Business Centre in Croydon. The sales teams were under the management of a Jason Chalk.

Blakeney Bridge Wine Ltd was incorporated on June 10, 2011 in the name London Wine Traders Ltd. The name of the company was changed to its present style on October 6, 2011.

Aside from Chalk, the directors were Richard Allen, who owned the company, and Philip Watkins, who also styled himself Lord Watkins.