Open letter to Mr Sultan Rashid, Director, Twelve By Seventy Five Limited:
I set out below my family’s experience of investing through Twelve By Seventy Five Limited (TBSF). All statements of fact can be evidenced.
In early 2014 my (now late) father held significant holdings of DRC and other well-known investment grade wines.
At this time, he was contacted by Mr Riccardo De’Nardis, a co-director, along with yourself, of newly formed wine brokerage, Twelve By Seventy Five Limited (TBSF).
I believe Mr De’Nardis had been involved in the sale of the DRC portfolio to my father (in his previous role at Capital Vintners) and used this former contact to introduce my father to TBSF.
During the next three years my father was advised by, and traded through, TBSF. This led to his existing portfolio being systematically sold to TBSF and reinvested (primarily) in variants of “Excellence de Belliard” wines, purchased from TBSF, at an invoiced value amounting to some £390,000.
These wines have proved to be basically unsaleable:
This is despite my father being led to believe that the investments were to be short term in nature - one email from Mr De’Nardis indicating a guaranteed 10% return within one year on one purchase. One interpretation of these facts could be that your firm offered catastrophically bad investment advice, but some people might consider that my father has been deliberately defrauded.
Recovery To date
Subsequent to my father’s death in February 2017 I reconciled all the transactions he had made with TBSF to both bank statements and to the wines present in his warehouse accounts.
This exercise identified a number of “administrative anomalies”, which led (over time) to the recovery of around £32,000 from TBSF.
Subsequent to this, TBSF agreed to help sell the portfolio off. However, this did not go well and in Summer 2017 I finally lost patience with TBSF’s increasingly implausible excuses for failing to sell a small tranche of the Belliard portfolio. I therefore formally confronted Mr De’Nardis with my opinion in relation to TBSF’s business with my father and demanded rectification.
After prolonged exchanges, during which Mr De’Nardis left TBSF suddenly and handed over to you, we eventually reached a “settlement agreement” during Summer 2017, involving the return of the wines to TBSF for a payment of £275,000 spread over two years. However, after some delay and renegotiation, you ultimately refused to sign it, claiming to have problems with your business and personal banking arrangements.
Subsequent to this we have managed to agree two additional payments, against threats of a court process and/or publicity of our case being initiated, amounting to some £28,000. This leaves our outstanding claim at around £330,000.
TBSF’s accounts to January 2017 show that the two directors at that time, Mr De’Nardis and yourself, were able to take £657,000 in directors’ loans from the business. The business does not have significant capital, nor any borrowings, so this implies some profitable and highly cash generative trading has taken place. No direct link to your dealings with my father can be proved from the information available, but I set out below an example of one en-primeur deal TBSF did with him, for which the wines landed in his warehouse account in March this year:
10 cases of L'EXCELLENCE DE BELLIARD PAUILLAC 2015 12X75CL (en primeur) :
Stated in-bond value £ 10,000
TBSF Invoice value £ 21,000
Uplift £ 11,000
The TBSF sales invoice does not disclose any such uplift and (putting to one side the question of whether the wines could be re-sold even flor the in-bond value) I don’t see any reason why my father would have made an investment on this basis, had he known the level of uplift being applied.
Subsequent to Mr De’Nardis’ departure, you are now the sole director. You no longer mention banking issues but continue to claim to be unable to offer any kind of immediate settlement (despite the money potentially available from the repayment of the directors’ loans). You recently indicated willingness to sign a new settlement agreement but then refused to respond when sent a draft for signature. In the meantime, it appears that you are changing focus, to work on new ventures, namely “The Wine Drinker” and “Two Thirsty Bulldogs”, and your responses to my emails are often long delayed and incomplete.
This has now been going on for well over a year and needs to be resolved, one way or another. I have therefore given up on privately discussing this matter with you. This letter is the first step in a series of escalations I plan to make to bring this issue to a conclusion. However, I remain open to constructive proposals in relation to how this might be achieved.
(name withheld to protect my father’s identity)
26 June 2018
Subsequent to the above, another settlement agreement (for roughly 81% of the outstanding invested value to be repaid over a 15 month period) was agreed, based on a proposal made by you, against the threat of further publicity of our case. You (eventually) posted a signed agreement to me, but simultaneously re-opened email negotiations, based around a roughly 4 year repayment period, amounting to the same total amount, which was not acceptable.
When requested to confirm the status of the signed agreement you claimed that it was sent “in error” and contained a signature which was not yours, despite it being the same as an earlier copy of your signature you had sent me, with each such signature having been witnessed (by different people in each case). I’m left wondering how I can have faith in any agreement we might subsequently reach but have little option other than to keep trying.
Despite you promising to continue negotiations around the extended timescale, you recently appear to have ceased responding to my emails.
14 th August 2018
Upon checking the Companies House website for your 31st January 18 accounts, I note that a revised set of accounts for 31st January 2017 has been filed. Some interesting changes were made in these accounts, which I cover in the "Accounts" page on this site.
29th October 2018