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Friday, 7 October 2016

Jail for cold-caller who scammed elderly wine investors – Jonothan Piper gets just desserts

Insolvency Service press release (30th September 2016): 

Jonothan Piper
, from Wanstead, has been sentenced to five and a half years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to one count of fraudulent trading, two counts of money laundering and one count of cheating HM Revenue and Customs of tax at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 22 August 2016.

Piper, 30, who was the director of Embassy Wine (UK) Limited and previously traded as a land and diamonds salesman, pleaded guilty to defrauding investors out of hundreds of thousands of pounds and to failing to pay tax and National Insurance on his earnings for six years.
Investors complained that they had been mis-sold expensive wine collections and had either not received the wine they were promised or were deceived in respect of the expected returns. Many investors were then persuaded to sell their wine collections to Piper’s company, but did not receive the promised payment. An investigation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) found that the self-professed fine-wine broker had not traded legitimately at all and had set up the company simply to con investors out of approximately £300,000.
BEIS discovered that HMRC was also conducting an investigation into Piper, and the matter was jointly prosecuted with the CPS. Piper also pocketed more than £51,000 in Income Tax and National Insurance contributions from his undeclared earnings, between 2008 and 2014.
Deputy Chief Investigation Officer Ian West from BEIS said:
Mr Piper cynically attempted to dissolve his company Embassy Wine (UK) Limited without notifying his creditors of his intention or complying with the three month trading restriction prior to any application for the striking off/dissolution of a company, to mask his fraudulent activity. It was established that he had defrauded his companies’ unsuspecting clients of in excess of £295,000 in a wine investment scam carried out, in conjunction with other frauds against the revenue to fund his expensive lifestyle. He now has to face the serious consequences of his criminal lifestyle.
This case should serve as a warning to those that seek to utilise the Insolvency regime to further fraudulent activity, that the BEIS Criminal Enforcement Directorate, will with law enforcement partners, ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted with the full force of the law.

Notes to editors

Jonothan Jeremiah Piper - date of birth 8 April 1986 - of Foxglove Gardens, Wanstead, pleaded guilty to: Acting with intent to prejudice or defraud HM Revenue and Customs, Fraudulent Trading, contrary to section 993(1) of the Companies Act 2006, Converting Criminal Property, contrary to section 327(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2000 and Converting Criminal Property, contrary to section 327(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2000, at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 22 August 2016.
He was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment for defrauding HMRC and 3.5 years’ consecutive imprisonment for the fraudulent trading offence. He was sentenced to 15 months’ concurrent imprisonment for the two counts of money laundering.
On 17 November 2015 Mr Piper was disqualified as a director for 11 years.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Jack Williams, legal adviser – who was his mysterious client?

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Frederick Achom – law finally catches up with lionised banned director

Frederick Achom pictured 
with then Prime Minister David Cameron 

 Report from FT Adviser 4th August 2016

In late July 2016 the law finally caught up with convicted fraudster and banned director Frederick Achom for running a wine investment company while disqualified from acting as a director. Achom admitted to running now bust APW Asset Management Ltd despite his 11-year directorship ban. 

The FT Adviser reported that Achom received a six-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay just under £1 million from his profits within three months or face a jail sentence of up to five years. 

Although it is good to see disqualification orders being enforced, it is amazing and worrying that it has taken so long. Frederick Achom and his business partner, Boington Anthony Grant, were disqualified for their part in running 'wine investment' company – Boington & Fredericks of London Ltd – from acting as UK company directors for 11 years. The ban ran from 23rd July 2002 to 22nd July 2013. Boington & Fredericks was wound up in the public interest in 2002. 

The Bordeaux Wine Company Ltd was founded on 17.2.2002 as Freedom Finance UK Ltd changing its name to The Bordeaux Wine Company 13.5.2003. It was fairly soon apparent that Frederick Achom and Anthony Grant controlled this company and Achom was also involved in Australian Portfolio Wines Ltd (in liquidation) despite their UK directors ban. 

They made no attempt to deny their involvement

On 13th April 2010 Anthony Grant sent me a lengthy response to my post here about The Bordeaux Wine Company, Grant and Achom.  

During the 2011 trial of convicted wine investment fraudster – Paul Craven – at St Albans Crown Court, Frederick Achom was a prosecution witness. Before setting up The Bordeaux Wine Trading Company Ltd Craven had worked for Achom at The Bordeaux Wine Trading Company.  

During his director's disqualification Achom is reported to have built a multi-million business empire based around The Rosemont Group, an off-shore company. On his site Frederick Achom's Story Bordeaux Wine Company is listed as one of his companies, although it is now also called BWC Management and Consulting Partners. Its website was registered on 1.11.2012. However copyright on the site runs from 2002 (see below), the date the Bordeaux Wine Company Ltd was founded

Under UK Company Law you can be disqualified as a director for up to 15 years. During the time of disqualification you cannot be a director of any company registered in the UK or an overseas company that has connections with the UK or be involved in forming, marketing or running a company. 

According to Achom's profile on Wikipedia: 
'Members clubs and investment firms

In 2005 Achom acquired controlling interest in the Bordeaux Wine Company,[27] the company was restructured and for the past decade has traded as a partnership offering services specifically to high net-worth individuals and institutions.[28]'

If indeed, the Bordeaux Wine Company was restructured into a partnership in 2005 there is nothing at Companies House to indicate any restructuring nor any details of Achom acquiring any shares in the Bordeaux Wine Company. 

Furthermore it was significant that during the fraud trials of Paul Craven and others at St Albans Crown Court during 2011 company that Craven and others had worked for before they set up The Bordeaux Wine Trading Company was referred to as the Bordeaux Wine Company Ltd. Although I wasn't in court every day, I was there on a number of occasions and I cannot recall any mention of BWC Management & Consulting Partners.  

Remarkably during his 11 year disqualification as a UK director Achom received a number of awards for being an entrepreneur as Frederick reveals on his Linkedin profile: including in the UK Power List 2011, London's 1000 Most Influential People (2011) and UK Power List 2013. 

All in all quite an achievement for a disqualified director! And what of his partner in the Bordeaux Wine Company Ltd – Boington Anthony Grant? Did the authorities just turn a blind eye until APW Asset Management Ltd was closed in the public interest by the Manchester High Court on 21st April 2015 with debts of £16.06 million?