OVERPRICED WINE THAT COULD LEAVE YOU WITH A HANGOVER; Investors Have Little Chance of Making a Profit Warns Expert

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HETHERINGTON

A. W. writes: I am sending you a sales brochure that my fatherin-law received from Bordeaux UK Limited after being coldcalled on the phone. I am an avid reader of Financial Mail and this appears similar to scams you have written about.WELL spotted. Bordeaux UK Limited offers investments in wine, and its glossy brochure lists examples that have shown huge gains.

But can Bordeaux UK help your father-in-law or anyone else to make a profit? The signs are not good.

For a start, the company is new and has no track record. It was set up three months ago and its owner and sole director is 23-year-old Ian Paul Van Der Hook of Bromley, Kent.

So does he have a sound background in the wine trade?

'No, no, I actually haven't,' he told me. 'But I have done ample research into this market. I have always been very interested in wine.' The only other Bordeaux UK official is the equally youthful Mrs Gillian Van Der Hook, the company secretary. But the three county court judgments that found against her, for a total of almost pound sterling2,000, do not inspire confidence.

Nor, for that matter, does the pound sterling214 court judgment against Ian Van Der Hook.

I was also struck by the fact that Bordeaux UK is based in Bromley, just a grape's throw from the offices of a wine investment company called James Hewitt Associates Limited. Hewitt was closed down recently by the High Court after an excellent investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry uncovered evidence that it was nothing more than a scam.

Could Bordeaux UK perhaps be related to James Hewitt, either the company or the man of that name who ran it? …