A Twist to Turn the Whisky Deals Sour; FINANCIAL MAIL,QUESTIONS OF CASH,Price of a `Free' Holiday to Nowhere, Loser in the Racing Game
Byline: TONY HETHERINGTON
J. T. writes: I read your recent comments about Marshall Wineries. Surely Stephen Jupe is contravening the Insolvency Act by running a company of the same name so soon after the first went bankrupt.
STEPHEN Jupe has been boss of two businesses, both called Marshall Wineries.
He has made a tidy sum through them by selling vastly overpriced whisky and champagne as investments.
As we reported last month, Marshall Wineries was originally just a trading name used by Jupe's company SSI. But when this went bust in December, owing [pounds sterling]700,000, Jupe carried on trading with a new company, also called Marshall Wineries.
What I did not know then - and many thanks for pointing this out - is that the Insolvency Act makes it a criminal offence for anyone who has controlled a bankrupt company to operate a new company under the same name within five years.
I invited Consumer Affairs Minister Nigel Griffiths to say what action he would take against Jupe. His officials refused to say whether they were even investigating this apparent offence.
The Minister himself told me: `My department has wound up a number of drinks companies in the public interest over the last few months, and I understand that the Serious Fraud Office is conducting its own investigations into a large number of these companies. Action will be taken against any company if the evidence is there.'
Well, yes, Minister. But when?
On July 11 officials applied to the High Court to wind up a similar company, Hamilton Spirit Management, 10 months
after we warned here that its offer of an 18% annual profit on whisky investments was utter nonsense.
And how about Millennium Spirits Investment? We reported on April 27 that it is lying, cheating and swindling. Yet the DTI has been so slow in pursuing it that the perpetrators have already moved on to their next company.
Last week Griffiths warned against `easy money' schemes. But until his department establishes a serious intelligence section, a hit-list of known con artists and a sense of urgency, such schemes will not go away.
They will still be very easy money indeed - for the swindlers.
Price of a `free' holiday to nowhere
S. B. writes: Can I reclaim the deposi[Bt I paid by credit card for a holiday that has been lost because the travel company folded? The firm was the US-based Travel House of Virginia.
TRAVEL House of Virginia issued impressive-looking certificates to thousands of people in the UK, making them think they had been awarded a free or cut-price holiday in Florida.
But anyone who called to claim their award was told that a deposit had to be paid by credit card. Those who paid were later milked for more money in service charges, port fees, transfers and administrative costs.
In all, the `free' vacation to Disney World cost as much as if bought through a British travel agency.
The company has now written to its customers saying that it has gone out of business, and adding: `As a result of embezzlements occurring at our company, no refund is available. …