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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jim Budd

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) searched 13 addresses in the UK, Grenada and Spain on 23/24 July, as part of its investigation into wine investment and share fraud. Following a referral from the DTI, the SFO is looking at eight companies: City Vintners and Goldman Williams (wine investment); Hopkin Pierce & Co Ltd, The Stanley Riebeck Corporation, Webster Cohen & Galombik (all share companies in Grenada); Union Partners Sl (formerly Goldberg Kravitz), Reichman Advisory SL and Chapman Foster (all share companies in Barcelona). Many of the share companies are linked with the Salisbury Merchant Bank of Grenada, which operated as a market-maker. The share companies offered off-shore dealing facilities. Raun Austin and Andrew Sommerville, directors of City Vintners and Goldman Williams, are believed to be involved in running these companies. The Birches Company, run by chartered accountant Sommerville, is authorised by the FSA to carry out investment business. The Birches offered reassuring approval for material sent out by the share companies. Six premises in London were raided by the SFO and the Met. Local police took part in the raids in Grenada and Barcelona. The raids were to gather evidence and no arrests were made.