Wine investment boss banned for 12 years
The director of a wine investment firm that was liquidated in 2012 with £1 million missing from its books has been banned from running a company for 12 years.
Nicolas Jones, the 46-year-old former director of Worldwide Wealth Collections, has been prevented from holding an executive position in a company for 12 years after a high court hearing last week (August 7).
The court heard that he helped to run a boiler room scam in which reps used cold calling and intimidating sales techniques to wrangle tens of thousands of pounds out of the strangers they phoned. The money was then rarely even spent on the wine that was pitched at grossly inflated prices.
His ban comes three years after the company went into liquidation with at £1 million of client’s money pocketed by staff at the dodgy company, which ran its operations out of rented offices in Beckenham, South London, despite claiming to be based in an expensive central London property.
Of the £2.3million it made, only £400,000 was spent on wine.
An undercover investigation into the firm by The Daily Mirror in 2012 discovered the script used by the sales reps included clever answers to strong-arm wary potential clients. If the person said they didn’t have any money, the reply was: “Only plants and animals have no money.”
Department for Business lawyer Mark Green referred to the Mirror investigation when presenting evidence to the High Court last week. He said: “Their methods included harassment, misrepresentation, inflated prices and a hard-selling technique that became abusive.
“Mr Jones hasn’t given any reasons for his behaviour and it’s as if he doesn’t seem able to.”
Ruling on Jones’ case, High Court judge Registrar Sally Barber said: “The wanton, self-serving and irresponsible use of sales income, leaving purchase orders unsatisfied was compounded by the inadequacies of the company’s records. As if to add insult to injury the defendant also failed to keep clients’ details confidential.
“It was involved in the systematic stripping of the savings of vulnerable individuals inexperienced in investment matters.”
As Worldwide Wealth Collections folded in 2012, the signatures of clients were forged to transfer their wine to a second operation, Prestige Wines Collections.
Prestige Wines Collections, which does not appear on the Companies House directory, has been contacted by the drinks business to comment on its involvement with Worldwide Wealth Collections.
The Mirror investigation said that the leading figure in the Worldwide Wealth Collections operation was a man called Noel Surin, who has not been reprimanded. It is thought that Nicolas Jones has fled to Indonesia.