Texas State Securities Board had accused the wholesaler of premium grade Scotch and Irish Whiskey of engaging in fraud – statements that have now been fully retracted
DUBLIN and LONDON, July 11, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A Securities Board in the United States has suffered a pre-trial defeat by the London and Dublin-based Whiskey & Wealth Club, after the Securities Commissioner in Texas dismissed a cease and desist order against the cask wholesaler.
The landmark dismissal and retraction of allegations made by The Texas State Securities Board in an emergency order and media release on November 2nd 2021, have now been completely withdrawn.
The Securities Board asserted that Whiskey & Wealth Club had violated United States securities statutes, and specifically, that investments tied to pallets of whiskey are securities.
The ruling now confirms that Whiskey & Wealth does not engage in securities investment or trading under US law, meaning that it is like buying collectibles such as art, a watch or a car.
The final resolution rightfully abandons – in their entirety – all of the allegations that the Whiskey & Wealth Club was operating a securities offering in violation of U.S. securities laws. Such dismissals are exceedingly rare and only afforded where clearly warranted. The fact Whiskey & Wealth Club obtained the dismissal is a testament to what it has said all along: the allegations were clearly flawed.
Before any evidence was presented, the Board accused the company of “engaging in fraud in connection with the offer for sale of securities” which threatened to do the public “irreparable harm” – statements they have now totally retracted.
The agreement to dismiss these accusations was filed on July 7th 2022, in which the Texas agency found that Whiskey & Wealth Club did not engage in illegal acts in connection to the offer or sale of securities and did not make statements to deceive the public.
The Board also dismissed allegations and orders against individual Whiskey & Wealth employees, namely: Scott Sciberras, William Fielding, Alex Mook, Richard Falconer and Benjamin Dunlop.
Commenting on the dismissal, Whiskey & Wealth co-founder Mr. Jay Bradley said the decision now paves the way for a highly regulated business model to flourish in the United States, where sales of Irish whiskey – the fastest growing premium spirit in the world – are forecast to overtake Scotch by 2030.
“This is a hugely important victory for Whiskey & Wealth Club in a case that has been hanging over our business for 8 months and which cost a significant amount of money in legal fees, drained resources, and defamed our company, yet now paves the way for our cask wholesale business to prosper in the United States and around the world,” Mr. Bradley said.
“The Securities Board has now rectified its mistake and recognised our substantial co-operation with the investigation. The retraction and dismissal of the case is the closest thing to an apology that we are going to get,” he said.
The new order states that Whiskey & Wealth Club cooperated with the Enforcement Division and provided relevant records and information about its business to the Enforcement Division.
It added: “Respondents, (Whiskey & Wealth Club), set forth certain defences, including that they have not offered or sold securities, they have not acted as dealers, and they have not engaged in wilful violations of the Securities Act. In line with these defences, Respondent has submitted information sufficient to conclude that a dismissal of the Emergency Order is warranted”.
Speaking after the landmark dismissal, Whiskey & Wealth Club co-founder and CEO Scott Sciberras said he was struck by the harshness of the United States conflict between justice and trial by media, saying that the policies and procedures employed by the State Board could have significant financial and reputational ramifications for any businesses.
“We believe the U.S. practice of issuing a damaging press release on the same day as a legal order, without seeing or hearing any evidence, even going as far as to accuse a company of fraud – and then retracting all of those allegations 8 months later, could have a disastrous impact on most businesses. This kind of legal and public relations strategy is unheard of in Ireland, the UK, or Commonwealth countries.
“Fortunately for us, we were able to weather this storm thanks to our incredibly loyal client base and new customers, who were able to see beyond the statements and allegations made by the Texas State Securities Board”.
Mr. Sciberras added: “We have worked closely with the Securities Board to educate them on the process of wholesale cask whiskey buying and selling, and on how our business model works, and we will continue to work with them in the future”.
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