The UK’s Insolvency Service has disqualified William Geoffrey Mason from being a director for 10 years.
He ran William Mason Fine Wines Limited (WMFWL), incorporated in March 1997, which traded as an alcohol wholesaler from Norfolk.
The company entered liquidation in November 2020, but that triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service which discovered that the company operated a wine investment scheme, by purchasing and storing wines on behalf of its clients.
Between 2001 and 2019, investors transferred £445,000 ($586,813, €533,871) to the firm, with Mason writing to them and providing them with stock certificates and, in some cases, arranging partial return of their wine or funds.
But the investigation revealed that Mason did not purchase the wine in most cases, and the company disposed of the alcohol without the agreement of the investors.
When WMFWL entered liquidation, it had no wine in stock, the Insolvency Service said.
Mason’s ban became effective from 22 February 2022 and the disqualification order prevents him from directly or indirectly becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company without the permission of the court.
David Argyle, deputy head of insolvent investigations at the Insolvency Service, said: “Several of the investors that have lost their investments were good friends with William Mason and it was this friendship that made them believe they could trust him.
“10 years is a significant disqualification and sends a stark warning to directors who think they can abuse their investors that we will pursue the strictest restrictions and remove them from the corporate arena.”