Disqualification for wine investment company director Ian Paul Vanderhook
Ian Paul Vanderhook, the director of a wine investment company – Bordeaux UK Ltd (‘Bordeaux UK) which took in more than £23m from investors and folded with debts of more than £10m - has been banned as a director for nine years for failing to keep proper company books and records.
The disqualification, which started on 18 October 2013 following an investigation by the Insolvency Service, means that Mr Vanderhook (34) cannot be a director, manage or control a company until 2022.
Mr Vanderhook gave undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation not to be a director or manage or control a company until after the disqualification ends.
Bordeaux UK took over £23million from investors between October 2008 and November 2011 of which, only £4.6m was used to purchase wine. The company went into creditors’ liquidation on 30 November 2011 with debts of over £10m but with only £1.7 million of wine available. Mr Nedim Ailyan was appointed as the liquidator.
Of the remaining £19million, Mr Vanderhook benefitted from at least £2million whilst £13million cannot be explained or accounted for as business- related, due to the lack of accounting records.
The investigation showed Mr Vanderhook had failed to keep adequate books and records for three companies, Bordeaux UK Limited, Van Der Hook Management Limited and Van Der Hook Consultancy Limited.
The former lift engineer set up Bordeaux UK in 2002 to encourage members of the public to invest in fine wines, predominantly from the Bordeaux region of France.
The wine recommended to investors by brokers employed by Bordeaux UK was both “In-Bond” - bottled wine stored in bonded warehouses in the UK - and “En-Primeur” - a method of purchasing wines whilst the vintage is still in the barrel and thus not bottled or available to be shipped for at least a year.
In addition, the liquidator was forced to employ specialist agents to assist with unravelling the mess left by Mr Vanderhooks’ failure to keep proper records and to analyse and reconcile claims from investors in excess of £10m.
The liquidator, Nedim Ailyan, called the situation a “mismanagement on a colossal scale” and further stated:
“In my experience the books and records were completely inadequate and we were unable to ascertain the level of creditors due to deficiencies within them. As an example we have instances of wine that was allegedly allocated to individuals but there is no record of the wine being transferred.
“In addition, individuals alleged that the company disposed of wine on their behalf and this was to either be replaced with other stocks of wine or alternatively the proceeds passed to them but this never happened.
“There were no financial records available to us that would have helped us to formulate a statement of affairs or to reconcile individuals’ accounts and on average it was taking at least a day to reconcile each individual’s account due to the volume of sales.”
Furthermore, due to the lack of any accounting records, the Insolvency Service is unable to establish what taxes were due to HM revenue & Customs.
It was also not possible to determine why Van Der Hook Management Limited and Van Der Hook Consultancy Limited received and paid out money from the Bordeaux account as Mr Vanderhook claimed neither company was actively trading.
Given Van Der Hook Management Limited used the trading style of Bordeaux UK, it is suspected their accounts were used for funds due to Bordeaux UK Ltd.
Mr Vanderhook has not co-operated with the Insolvency Service or the liquidator and has not explained the financial transactions or why investors have lost in excess of £10million.
David Brooks, a Chief Examiner for the Insolvency Service stated:
“This case serves as an example of why companies must keep accounting records and make them available to the liquidator or administrator.
“Without the books and records, costs in the liquidation have increased and what happened to a large amount of investor's money cannot be explained.
“The fact investors have lost in excess of £10million whilst only £1.7million of wine stock was available to them makes this an especially serious case.
“Directors who do not maintain and preserve their company’s books and records adequately will be investigated by the Insolvency Service and in the appropriate cases, disqualified to protect the public and the business community.”