A rather late news flash:
Unfortunately I missed this most recent development in the long-running 1855.com saga and am indebted to my Les 5 du Vin colleague, Hervé Lalau, for bringing this report by Jérôme Baudouin in the Revue du Vin de France back in early July 2017 to my attention.
On 6th June 2017 the President of the Chambre d’Instruction de la Cour d’Appel de Paris decided to fire the judge, who had been in charge of the enquiry, and to appoint a new one. The President was not impressed that after nearly two years the investigation appeared to be getting nowhere. Hopefully this second judge will be more effective and that there is a proper and thorough investigation into the scandal of 1855.com and its two principals – Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon.
When 1855 was forced into liquidation it had debts of over 40 million euros and millions of bottles, many of them Grand Cru Bordeaux, that were never delivered to their clients.
There has long been a strong suspicion that Hyon and Sauty de Chalon have had protection in high places. It looks as though this may have continued.
First two paragraphs of the RVF Report:
Affaire 1855.com : le juge dessaisi,
Tournant décisif dans l’affaire 1855.com, le président de la Chambre d’Instruction de la Cour d’Appel de Paris a décidé de dessaisir de son enquête le juge enquêtant sur le site frauduleux depuis 2015 pour la confier à une nouvelle juge qui va reprendre l’enquête.
A more general enquiry needed
How come the 1855.com scandal was able continue for so long? It was known for years that the company was in trouble – failing to deliver its clients’ wines and building up debts. These problems dated back at least to 2006/7 when 1855 was caught out by the rapid increase in price of the 2005 Bordeaux vintage as many of their sales were en primeur and their ‘business model’ involved taking clients’ money during the en primeur campaign but only buying the wines when they were actually in bottle.
Furthermore with debts of over 40 million euros where did the 1855 clients’ money go? Into whose pockets?
Numerous complaints were made to La Répression des Fraudes (DGCCRF) with no apparent action taken. In early August 2012 France 2 broadcast a programme about 1855 with the clear headline ‘Arnaque’ – fraud. Clearly they felt there was no risk of the company successfully suing them for libel.
Why was 1855.com allowed to continue until January 2015 to build up debts of over 40 million euros and with huge numbers of wine orders never delivered? There should be an inquiry into why this this allowed to happen. Did the two principals – Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon – have friends high up in the French state who provided protection? Why has the enquiry into the company made so little progress over the past two years that a new judge has had to be appointed?