An exclusive db investigation uncovers the full story behind London-based fine wine investment consultants APW Asset Management, and the clients that have invested millions with next to nothing in return.
APW Asset Management was set up to persuade UK investors to invest in Australian wine, with the company promising that healthy profits could be made in a short space of time on cases of wine purchased through them.
However, the company is facing liquidation, as db learns that a firm named Quantuma – which was approached to take over London-based APW at the end of 2014 – is unable to put it in administration due to the “uncertainty of the situation”.
Speaking to numerous clients, industry figures and companies close to APW’s operations as part of an exclusive db investigation, we can reveal:
- APW has links to Sydney, Australia in the form of a failed investment scheme named Australian Portfolio Wines, as well as other fine wine flops.
- Unsuspecting clients were lured in by ‘aggressive’ techniques and ‘cold-calling’ that promised ‘wildly overestimated’ returns on wine.
- APW were the sole UK importers for many of the wines they advised clients to buy, giving the company a double-profit and free-reign when it came to valuations.
- Some clients invested tens of thousands of pounds, and got ‘less than half back’. One client we spoke to invested £100,000 but has got nothing in return.
- Client’s wines are now trapped in storage with auctioneers (drafted in to help clients recover their investment) left to clean up the mess. One insider told us, ‘There could be up to £25 million involved’.
- Some APW employees have moved on to a new investment firm, UK Agora, who are calling clients saying they can help them with their APW wine after they purchase new wine through them.
- City of London Police is ‘assessing the case’.
As APW faces liquidation, the wines that it billed as the quick way to financial success are frozen.
Potentially several thousand cases are locked in warehouses while clients – and the numerous auctioneers and wine trading websites willing to help – are left seemingly stranded.
The wine has been locked in storage as Quantuma, the company-restructuring firm brought in by APW unexpectedly in December 2014, attempts to clear debts rung up by the company throughout its decade-long existence in the UK.
However, db learns that Quantuma are likely to recommend complete liquidation of APW. This hasn’t been confirmed to db, despite several attempts over many weeks to speak directly to the company.
London City Bond (LCB), the wine storage firm used by APW, is owed “substantial” fees from APW, according to one client who contacted db. We have also learned, from a former APW employee, that the figure owed to LCB could be around “six-figures”.
LCB have confirmed that they are indeed owed money from APW and have blocked its clients’ wine from release until a resolution can be found.
Meanwhile, former APW salesmen are calling their old clients on behalf of a new company called UK Agora, suggesting that they can assist by taking responsibility of their wine and advising that more wine be purchased through this new company.
Clients have been in touch with the police, who have confirmed to db that APW is being “assessed” by the City of London National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, who will report back to the supposed victims by the middle of this month.
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