James Bradley, Whiskey & Wealth Club, and other people’s money

James Bradley AKA Jay Bradley AKA Bradley Jay.

Jay Bradley does not now, nor has he ever, held any directorships or chairman titles in Australia for software based businesses.   

  • A statement from Milk & Honey PR on behalf of their client James Bradley 

Reevera is a dynamic software development company leading the way in user friendly, software and IT for the arbitrage industry. 

  • A statement on the website of Reevera, a software company in Australia of which James Bradley was director. 

I have spent the last six months trying to get James Bradley to answer a few simple questions – to give me names of some of the companies he set up, to explain what they did, or what happened to them. I have asked for explanations of how he became an expert in such disparate fields as real estate, software sales, and sports arbitrage betting. I have also asked why there are multiple accusations of fraud against him on the internet. For someone who loves to talk, Bradley seems pointedly unwilling to actually tell me anything. 

His denial about Reevera is a good example – his business partner in this and other ventures was an old friend of his named Stephen ‘Steo’ Keating, AKA Steifin Ceitinn, currently being prosecuted in Australia for being the ringleader of a gang that scammed millions out of consumers with fraudulent software sales. All Bradley would say about Keating was that he is not currently in business with him. 

James Bradley also told me he has nothing to do with Freedom Investment Club. Here he is representing them at a seminar in San Diego 2015:

Here he is on the Freedom Investment Club Vimeo hosting a Freedom Investment Club webinar: 

This has been typical of my dealings with Bradley via Milk & Honey PR, who represent his Whiskey & Wealth Club operation and its wholly owned subsidiary The Craft Irish Whiskey Company.  He tells me almost nothing, and when I do ask a question, he either ignores it or gives a misleading answer. 

So the question is – why? Why the unwillingness to supply basic information to back up his grandiose claims about his business acumen? I have no idea. But I can give you a couple of reasons why you should not invest in Whiskey & Wealth Club. 

The Background

Before Whiskey & Wealth Club (W&WC), there were few places where you could buy casks of whiskey in Ireland. The vast majority were cask clubs, where a new distillery generates much-needed revenue by selling casks to fans. The casks are usually priced between the €5k and €9k mark. These are not really investments – it is unlikely that you will make a mint on a €6k cask when you decide to bottle or sell, as the purchase price was high. Cask clubs are more like a distillery fan club. 

Enter W&WC, who offered to connect distilleries to cask buyers at prices  lower than cask clubs – their first offering was casks from West Cork Distillers. It seemed like a good proposition to all concerned – West Cork Distillers believed that the casks were going to be offered at a reasonable mark-up from their asking price of about a grand a cask. Except W&WC are not offering value, they are offering casks sold in pallets of six for €17k. 

West Cork Distillers were also the source for James Bradley’s Craft Irish Whiskey Company, which also offered casks direct to consumers but more in a cask-club style. Those casks were priced at €7,650, with claims that a distillery was being built. Bradley told one Irish journalist that he has stills on order, but when I asked about this, seeking to know where he was ordering them from, he declined to answer. I also asked where his distillery was being built. Again, silence. 

West Cork Distillers are no longer dealing with Bradley, nor are they going to be dealing with him in the future. Despite this, in an interview last July, Bradley insisted he was getting more casks this year from West Cork Distillers. This, West Cork Distillers have emphatically stated, is not the case. In fact, after seeing the prices W&WC were charging for casks, West Cork Distillers launched their cask co-operative where punters could buy casks for reasonable prices. It makes sense – West Cork Distillers have mature whiskey bottled and on supermarket shelves so you can test before you invest. West Cork Distillers have also been in operation for well over a decade, so they have a proven track record in business.  

The next cask offering from W&WC was less quantifiable. Boann in Louth only started distilling late last year after long delays. Their current whiskey, The Whistler, is sourced – they don’t make it, they just bottle it. So there is no way of knowing what the quality of their distillery output – ie, the liquid in the casks being bought through W&WC –  is going to be like.  Despite this Boann have been central to the W&WC operation for some time, with prospective buyers being shown around the distillery, with James Bradley acting as guide. Bradley is also offering members of the media tours of the distillery.

In what might have come as a surprise to the Cooney family, who own Boann, Bradley recently launched an ambitious bid to take over the distillery and brewery group, saying that the Cooney children ‘did not see themselves as being capable’ of taking the company forward. 

It’s worth pointing out that, aside from W&WC, not one of the many, many business entities that I know of which Bradley has been involved in are in existence today. The lifespan for his projects appears to be two years, then it folds, and he moves on.

There are two pieces written about Whiskey & Wealth Club which are worth reading: One is on Bond Review. It eviscerates W&WC; but it also highlights that James Bradley was named as Bradley Jay on the company documents. When I queried this with W&WC they blamed a company formation firm, and they corrected the error. I also queried why James Bradley was, at that time, not named or photographed on the W&WC team page. He has since been added.

Then there is Peter Mulryan’s piece, which asks some serious legal questions about investing in whiskey casks generally, but was written in reaction to W&WC. 

For now it would appear the only distillery willing to supply Bradley are Boann. Even Great Northern refuses to deal with them. In fact, when W&WC first appeared they were telling potential customers that they had a contract with Great Northern Distillery for supply. Great Northern contacted W&WC via their solicitor to ensure they stopped using their name. 

The Deal

So imagine you bought six casks from W&WC at the start when they were sourcing from West Cork Distillers. You paid around €17k for them. Then consider all the members of the West Cork Distillers Whiskey Co-op who bought 4,000 casks priced between €800 and €1,100 a piece last year, and another 4,000 again this year. That’s 8,000 casks from the same distillery you bought from, all hitting the market around the same time yours will – ie, after three years maturation. 

Then consider Great Northern’s link-up with Ally Alpine of Celtic Whiskey Shop, who are selling casks direct to consumers for similar prices to those of West Cork Distillers. So you have thousands upon thousands of casks from proven distilleries which are going to be all over the market for the next decade. But while I can flip my casks for a small profit in three years, you have to sit and wait to make the same profit as you bought at a higher price. 

Reading the W&WC brochures, you would never know any of this. In fact, there is a lot wrong with their brochures.

The first iteration of their brochure has a photo stolen from the Irish Whiskey Association Twitter account. Taken at a whiskey tourism launch in Midleton, the photo included IDL archivist Carol Quinn and Minister Andrew Doyle. Neither gave their consent for the image to be used by W&WC. The IWA requested it be removed. After some time, a new W&WC brochure was released, without the stolen photo, but with similar amounts of what one industry accountant described to me as ‘fantasy economics’. Here’s a sample:

The future for the Irish whiskey market looks incredibly optimistic. In May 2019, Redbreast released a limited-edition bottle called the Dream Cask. All 924 bottles had sold out in under 14 minutes at a cost of €340 per bottle. In September 2018, Teeling auctioned its first bottle from its new Dublin distillery. Despite the relatively early maturation age of three years, the bottle sold for £10,000…. All of this attention, coupled with big marketing budgets, bodes very positively for Irish whiskey

No it doesn’t. Dreamcask = very mature single pot still, a commodity only one distillery in Ireland currently has. The Teeling bottle mentioned was auctioned for charity and the rest of them sold for 55 euro. So none of that has any bearing on the value of your theoretical cask of Boann or West Cork whiskey.

Here is another excerpt:

30 years to grow €3,000 to €300,000

There have been recent reports of record prices achieved on rare whiskies. For example, a 12-year-old ex-Bourbon cask with an asking price of €75,000 was sold via Midleton’s cask circle, as well as a 16-year-old cask for €320,000 (400 litres, which is double the size of our casks, so €160,000 by comparison). Another example is a 27-year-old 500-litre Marsala cask which went on sale for a colossal price of €907,000. 

And a slightly subdued disclaimer: 

While not all 27-year-old casks will achieve this, it’s an important marker for just how much an aged barrel can sell for 

No it isn’t. Midleton’s cask circle mostly offered single pot still whiskey. Again, there is no other distillery with stocks of SPS at the age Midleton has. So the value of those SPS casks is not representative of how much you will sell your SPS casks in 20 years time, when the nation will be awash in casks of SPS from West Cork Distillers, GND et al.  

You would need to know a little about whiskey to understand this, and this is where Whiskey & Wealth Club thrive – with people who have only seen the headlines about the Irish whiskey boom and know that they want in, without really understanding what they are actually getting themselves into.

The long history of Scotch tells us that whisky is cyclical – there are periods of boom, and then oversupply when distilleries get shuttered. We will most likely be the same. Right now there is a boom, but with distilleries popping up all over the country, in ten years we will be swimming in whiskey – the cask value today is today’s value, not a decade’s time. The graph will not continue to rise as it has.

The ‘Wealth Advisors’

So what happens when a punter expresses an interest in investing with W&WC? I spoke to one person who found out. He works in the emergency services in Dublin, lives in Naas with his wife and kids. He didn’t want to be named. But this is what he told me: 

“Last October I was looking to invest some money. An ad for investing in Whiskey and Wealth Club kept coming up. I don’t claim to know a huge amount about whiskey but I do like the odd dram so I downloaded the information and read it (you need to put in your contact details to download). It seemed too good to be true and although I was interested I decided not to act on it as I didn’t know enough about it. 

“A few days later I got a phone call from Sue Kiernan of Whiskey and Wealth, she gave more information and explained that the possible returns were extremely good – up to 55% compound – and asked if I was interested in investing as they were coming to the back end of their third cask release. I said that I would need to check up on a few things before I could commit as it was more than I had planned to invest (this was really to get her off the phone as she was becoming very convincing, she was very knowledgeable and knew her stuff). In the coming days I didn’t really do any background checks and thought that would be the end of it but a few days later Sue phoned me again. 

“She said that there was only a few casks left in their 3rd release and if I wanted to hold them I would have to make a small deposit before they were gone. The next release would be in early 2020 at significantly higher prices. Sue explained the cost involved i.e. 17k for a pallet of six Single Malt which could return up to 47k after five years. 

“I reluctantly gave her a €300 deposit to hold six casks which I received a receipt for online, Sue said it was fully refundable so that gave me some comfort. 

“It was then that I started to check up on whether W&WC was as good as it sounded. On their YouTube video it shows Boann Distillery with W&WC investors who all seemed very happy. So I contacted Boann and spoke to Patrick Cooney. I asked him if W&WC was legit, he was very honest and explained that he had been paid by W&WC and had entered into a deal with them. He also said that the price of a cask is significantly less than the price W&WC were charging me for. 

“He wouldn’t say if W&WC claims were correct but if they were he would be keeping all the casks for himself. 

“I then received the Offer Documents from W&WC which stated that I had placed an order for 6 Pot Still casks from the 2nd release so I decided to call in unannounced to the W&WC Dublin office which is on Harcourt St. to meet and talk to people face to face, as there was something not right here. 

“The door of No. 20 Harcourt St. was locked and W&WC did not show on the list of companies on the door buzzers. I waited outside and after a while someone came out so I ran in. I walked the whole building and asked other staff if they knew where W&WC was in the building, nobody had heard of them. I then rang Sue on her office number she answered and I asked her if I could call in to see her in the office as I was in the area. She said that she was working from home that day but she could meet me somewhere to save me driving all the way from Naas. 

“I phoned several other distilleries over the next few days and all of them were quite sceptical about W&WC, most of them were selling casks for more than W&WC but they explained that it was not as an investment but more as a way for some people to feel a part of the whiskey process while giving ownership in a unique way. 

“They said that not much money if any would be made by their own cask members, that was not the reason it was intended. 

“I arranged to meet Sue in Avoca on the Naas Road later that week. I asked her for more details about where the whiskey is coming from as it’s clearly not from Boann, she said that it comes from many small craft distilleries around the country but that Boann had some problems setting up their distillery which meant they had to go elsewhere for their casks. 

“I asked her about the lack of an office and she said that they were in the process of getting it painted and she was working from home in the meantime. I mentioned that the offer was incorrect and I was been given Pot Still which is less expensive than Single Malt which I was told I was ordering. She couldn’t explain why that had happened. The next day I told her that I had decided not to go ahead with investing and could I have the deposit back, she said of course and that it would be done straight away as promised. 

“A week later nothing had happened so I phoned her again, no answer so I sent an email politely reminding her to refund the deposit, no response. I continued to leave voice messages and emails over the next few days and eventually while calling from my wife’s phone I got through. Sue explained that she was out of the country for a few days and apologised and that the deposit would be refunded straight away. Another couple of weeks passed and still nothing, again I phoned and emailed with no response. 

“On the 9th of December I sent another email saying that if I had not heard back by the close of business, I was going to the papers. Amazingly, I was contacted that evening by the Richmond Office in London with a full refund.”

I asked the PR firm about the Harcourt Street office that does not exist, and they responded: “Whiskey & Wealth Club has offices in both Dublin and London. We have a serviced office which a team of two in Dublin who use it as a satellite office.  We anticipate this team will grow by year end to 20 and require a more permanent office. We did the same in Richmond with a small serviced Regus office that housed our first six employees, until such a time as we outgrew it. We now have a two storey 3,500 sq ft permanent office in Richmond with 27 staff. We anticipate this team will grow to 45 by the end of 2020.”

Sue Kiernan is James Bradley’s sister. She was also director of Nedax Financial Consulting Team Limited, also trading as Gosling Investments, Richard Group, Financial Software Systems, and Managh Systems Inc. There is a discussion about Gosling Investments – which sold sports arbitrage software for 7,500 – on Ask About Money, the Irish consumer website. There is a similar thread on Boards.ie about the same company. 

Jon Bradley, another sibling, was also a director of Nedax. He was also director of Share Success Online, also trading as Acorn Wealth Strategies Limited, Market Price Today and Guardian Trades. It sold share trading software. And once again, there is a discussion about the firm(s) on Ask About Money. There is also this from the Irish Independent

A Birr, Co Offaly, auctioneer was lured into handing over €7,000 to an internet agency which promised quick and easy money simply by following its stock trading tips, a judge heard today.

Barrister James Nerney, counsel for auctioneer Glen Corcoran, told the Circuit Civil Court his client had been promised in a brochure that he would “make money and achieve financial freedom”.

Mr Nerney said Corcoran, of Tumbeagh, Ballinahown, Co Offaly, had been promised a programme of training, education and coaching in profitably dealing on the stock market via its software package.

“The brochure had been followed up with phone calls and emails which had led to his entering into a contract in January last year,” Mr Nerney said.

Corcoran told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that following representations by John Lawlor, a manager with Acorn Wealth Strategies Limited, which trades as Share Success out of a Balbriggan, Co Dublin, industrial unit he “signed up and forwarded €6,990 by electronic transfer” to the company.

He said that in a cold call phone conversation Lawlor asked if he would like to make money and make it quickly with minimal time and effort. The company had promised him “a lucrative money making strategy as quickly as possible.”

He had been assured he would be trained in finding stock trading opportunities and forecasting market trends in a unique package which had turned out to be simply a licence agreement to deal in “contract for difference” opportunities and not hard physical share dealing.

“I wanted to make money and had been attracted to the original offer, Mr Corcoran said.   “When I raised the matter of CFD’s with Mr Lawlor he said I could make money with them whether the economy was in boom or recession,” Mr Corcoran said.

He said the training he had been promised turned out to be two or three 10-minute on-line sessions a week with a Zac Harris. 

Mr Corcoran said he had “fared fairly poorly” with his attempts to signalling financial movements in the market but had not reached the stage of investing further monies before contact and correspondence with Share Success had dried up.

He had later told Harris and Lawlor of his disappointment and lack of progress and had sought reimbursement of his money before going to James Lucey, his solicitor, who issued proceedings in November last.

Judge Linnane granted Mr Corcoran judgment for €6,990 against Acorn Wealth Strategies Limited, trading as Share Success, Unit 12, Balbriggan Enterprise and Training Centre, Stephenstown Industrial Park, Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

The defendant did not appear in court and a legal firm which had been representing the company was allowed to come off record for them.

After the case Mr Corcoran said he hoped his case would highlight “this poor business practice” to anyone else who may have dealings with the defendant.

Andrea Bradley, the fourth sibling, was also involved in a number of businesses with James and their father Shamus, as well as Steo Keating’s D11 Enterprises.  

Shamus passed away late last year, and a video of his funeral – in which a recording of him asking to be let out of the coffin was played – went viral around the world. In the media coverage of the man and his life which followed, there was no mention of his work in software sales.  

A furniture upholsterer by trade, Shamus Bradley was a cook in the army for a few years, and worked as a debt collector, where he earned himself a conviction for a brutal, prolonged assault on noted equestrian Ken Bryan, then a draper in Portarlington. Ironically, some years later Bradley was taken to court himself over unpaid debts to a furniture company. 

Shamus Bradley emigrated to Florida in 1990 where he ran a pub; he then worked in sales for two years selling frozen meat; before moving to Australia and moving into software sales. He joined a small software firm, taking a share of the company in return for running the sales division.

The software package he sold was called Global Trader, and there is a lengthy thread here dedicated to it. It also gets mentioned in a thread about World Trading College, which Shamus Bradley and a taxi driver named Ray Dalglish ran. The duo also ran Principal Investments, which also operated as Trading Like A Bank and which boasts this absolutely bonkers promo from former Aussie Rules star Warwick Capper. 

While James Bradley claims he had nothing to do with any software firms in Australia, he was listed as chairman of Global Trader on their website in August 2006, with Steo Keating listed as secretary. 

I spoke to one of the software developers behind Global Trader under condition of anonymity. He worked on software projects with the Australian military before moving into international banking. After returning to Australia, he helped create Global Trader. He told me about his experience with both Bradleys and Keating. His name has been tarnished ever since – he is lambasted in posts about Global Trader, as he was pushed out as the public face of it.

He was also the creator of a sports arbitrage package which he was commissioned to build for James Bradley and Steo Keating’s AusSoft entity. The product was called ArbATrader, and complaints about it are easy to find – you can read them here, here, here and here. Many of Bradley’s firms are interlinked or interchangeable –  the AusSoft website had a number of celebrity endorsements. The exact same celebrity endorsements were also used on the website of Bradley’s Globalsoft entity.  

James Bradley does admit that he hired the developer to create the first generation of his sport arbitrage software, but claims he commissioned a ‘more robust’ version which he then released via an Irish-registered software firm named Baranstone, of which he was director. He does not mention the name of the firm under which he released the first package. He did not address the other accusations which the developer made and which I put to him. 

On the Wayback Machine you can still see many of the websites of James Bradley’s business entities – Baranstone, Globalsoft, AusSoft, and the aforementioned Reevera, the Australian-registered software business of which James Bradley was director, while Steo Keating was secretary.  

Reevera offered software that it described as the amazing amalgamation of technology and pure genius called Syntrade. Through this exciting new software, a small but fast growing group of professional sports arbitrageurs have arisen. These are the people who are continually finding the risk free, tax free, (depending on where you live) profitable sports arbitrage trades. These are the people setting new standards in arbitrage and they are becoming known within the industry as Syntrageurs.

Sports arbitrage blogger Shane Greenup was less enthused, denouncing Reevera’s Syntrade software package as a rehash of AusSoft’s ArbATrader. Greenup was also highly critical of Baranstone and its SORT system.  

Greenup told me via email that sports arbitrage was the bitcoin of its day as it was new, complex and lay people did not understand it. 

“It was an easy thing to scam people with because technically it does work. You can make money doing it, and you can make 1%, 2%, 3% trades – and you can show people the odds that create these trades. You can show them past bets which you actually made which returned these kinds of returns…. and then you can just imply that you can do that every few hours with all of their money and they will be making 100s of percent returns per annum! (which is the lie, because you can’t do it with all of the money, and you can’t do it that often, and it takes a lot of work, and there is a limit to how much money you can move through the system).

“But all of the details are based in fact, and it is easy to omit the difficult bits and create a compelling narrative which looks legitimate. And yeah, I think it was a fad from back when arbitrage trading was new, and the profit was there to be made. These days the scams have moved on to Cryptocurrencies for the same reasons. 

“Technically, there is money there to be made. But no, anyone selling you a scheme which guarantees to make that money for you is a liar.”

One of the most detailed complaints about Bradley’s companies is this one about Baranstone/Tradesmart. It is worth reading all the way to the end, and the comments beneath. 

I did manage to find one person on LinkedIn who had Baranstone listed as a former place of employment. When I contacted him he declined to comment and immediately removed any mention of Baranstone from his profile. 

I asked James Bradley about Baranstone, and this was the response: “Baranstone ran for one year in Ireland from May 2007. It was a software company enabling sports betting. When bookmaker rules changed in summer 2008, it was closed. Closing this business 11 years ago was his final involvement in this industry.” 

In fact, in documents submitted to the Companies Registration Office in Dublin in late 2010, Mr Bradley changed secretary for the firm, so it was still in some level of operation three years after it was created. This was the last document filed by Mr Bradley with the CRO in relation to Baranstone. 

Dublin native Steo Keating, named as the ringleader of the Irish Boys software scam gang, was prosecuted as Stiofan Ceitinn, the Irish version of his name. Among the many, many companies he ran was an entity called D11 Enterprises. Another Irish national,  John Daly, was director of LTC Services, one of the firms specifically targeted by the Australian police unit which brought down the Irish Boys gang.

Globalsoft Technologies Ltd, the Irish-registered firm of which James Bradley was a director, and which also traded as Tradesmart Technologies, was described on its Australian-based website as ‘the latest expansion of the Australian-based LTC and D11 Group’.  

James Bradley AKA Jay Bradley AKA Bradley Jay; with Stephen ‘Steo’ Keating AKA Steifan Ceitinn, and John Daly AKA Sean O’Dalaigh on a night out in 2009. 

The Bradleys left Australia for the US around 2011. Shamus Bradley, his business partner Ray Dalglish and James Bradley then set up The American College Of Wealth, which also listed the matriarch of the family and younger daughter Andrea on their staff page. Shamus’s bio makes no mention of his time in Australia, while James’s is as follows: 

Like his father, Jay Bradley has been driven from a young age to achieve greatness. Finishing school early to work in his father’s furniture factory in Ireland, he learned a valuable trade in furniture-making but couldn’t ignore an innate desire to learn about building wealth and managing money. Jay moved away from his family to settle, marry, and have children in Australia. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jay created his own business, a financial advisement corporation specializing in stock market investment and trade. As friends and family learned of his trading skills, he held informal classes in his living room and developed a love for teaching the skills he had learned and developed himself. Inspired by the banking industry, Jay founded a company that created software used by banks to execute currency trades. Partnered with a former Goldman Sachs algorithmic programmer, Jay’s company grew into a boutique private hedge fund with over 1,000 members and millions under management. At 30 years of age, Jay sold the company and retired, but remains on the board as the Chief Strategy Officer. In 2008, Jay was one of four founders creating a company selling distressed US property investments to international buyers. The organization became an incredible success, opening offices in Princeton, Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, and Florida with global offices in Singapore, the UK, and Australia. Jay is presently the largest shareholder and sits on the board of directors. After traveling the world with his wife and three children, Jay settled into his role with his father’s previously founded financial empowerment college, ACW. He serves as CEO, bringing a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion to the institution. ‘

No names of any of the companies where he made his millions. How odd.

The property firm mentioned is US Invest Global, a company he set up with Ryan McFarland. 

I asked Mr Bradley, via the PR firm, to explain US Invest Global: “US Invest was set up 2010, a successful business with over 2,500 satisfied clients. It operated by giving international investors the opportunity to invest in the US property market. At the time, the US dollar was weak against most stable currencies. However, as the US economy recovered and its currency strengthened, the investment value was reduced. The model no longer made sense and so the business was voluntarily closed in July 2015.”

This is in contrast to this post. Someone purporting to be Ryan McFarland, his former business partner in US Invest Global, posted this in reply, explaining what happened and distancing himself from James Bradley. McFarland even went to the trouble of threatening legal action over a post linking him to James Bradley.  

After US Invest Global folded, Bradley set up RAW Business Growth, which he operated from Waiheke Island in New Zealand, where he ran a pub named Smugglers Smokehouse. In my first, more genial email from him, Mr Bradley told me that he was forced to sell the pub and that he lost all his money doing so, but there was no further explanation of what appears to be a somewhat paradoxical statement. 

As for RAW Business Growth, it centred around a series of YouTube videos in which Mr Bradley gave the public a chance to ring him on a premium phone line to find out how to be successful like him. RAW has been folded, and the videos deleted. The official line from the PR firm is that Mr Bradley closed RAW when he was headhunted by a client – they didn’t elaborate to explain by who and for what he was headhunted. After RAW came Whiskey & Wealth Club and the Craft Irish Whiskey Company, and James segued from being an expert in real estate, sports arbitrage, business growth and software sales to suddenly being a whiskey expert.

When I first contacted James, before the PR firm took over the communications between us, he told me he was a fan of my work, and said it hurt to see me ridicule his Craft Irish Whiskey Company videos on Twitter, writing: “After the comments against my whiskey brand, before we even had a chance to get going, I’m obviously a tad concerned as to the motives of this piece. I’m all about positivity for Irish Whiskey. As it’s hard enough for the Irish to get back on the world map and claim our place as the originators and the best, without the internal negative press.

“I’m happy to chat with you, be open and honest with you, but only if its (sic) a genuine article and its (sic) reciprocated and not some hit piece.”

Here are some things I can say with certainty – that there are multiple accusations of fraud against James Bradley which he is pointedly unwilling to address; that not one business enterprise he founded – aside from W&WC – is still in operation today; and that for someone who talks about how successful he is he is unwilling to give a single, concrete example. I can also say that there are also accusations of fraud against other members of his family or against firms run by his father, brother and sisters.  

I can tell you that James Bradley’s close friend and former business partner Steo Keating is being prosecuted for running a massive boiler room scam which defrauded millions through share trading and sports arbitrage software. I can also tell you that Irish Boys member, Neil McKenny, from Ardee in Louth, was jailed last year for his part in the scams. Three other Irish Boys gang members arrested as part of Operation Unwind received suspended sentences.

I can tell you that in their brochure, Whiskey & Wealth Club’s other director, Scott Sciberras, proudly states that he worked with James Bradley for almost two decades; that Sciberras, via the PR firm, is also unwilling to tell me the name of a single firm he was involved in. I can also tell you that he is named in the comments section of this post

But above all, I can tell you this – Whiskey & Wealth Club is a terrible investment; terrible for consumers, terrible for distilleries, and terrible for the Irish whiskey category as a whole. They claimed they brought in four million in revenue in their first year, and ten million last year, and at the start of this month, they finally released some accounts. I asked some accountants to look over the documents, which can be downloaded here. One said this:

“Mismatch in trade creditors and debtors – a lot of sales to debtors are still o/s… add to that a large value of creditors coming up for payment on a year – cash conversion cycle is out of whack- also £188k to ‘group undertakings’? Wtf? Who what where? You need to see a cash flow to get a better picture – id stay away from it for now – imperfect info and all that … and all of this with 4 employees only .. nice bunce if you can get it …”

Another said this:
“What strikes me is that it isn’t an investment company which would be a more legitimate route for investment (I.e. the company holds a portfolio of casks and you own shares in the holding company) rather it seems to just be a retailer/wholesaler in effect with someone telling the buyer that what they sell is a great investment. You aren’t buying shares or anything regulated just booze in bigger containers. How is the model any different than an off licence selling “rare” whisky? In fact you would probably get a safer return from buying a Macallan from Master Of Malt.”

The best case scenario here is that this is simply a lousy investment, especially in relation to the potential returns being promised by Whiskey & Wealth Club’s ‘wealth advisors’. The worst case scenario is that this is an Irish Nant. James Bradley’s unwillingness to answer all the simple questions I asked him does not reassure me. Likewise, Boann have ignored my emails and warnings.

What are the repercussions for the wider industry if this all falls apart? What if, as Bond Review asked, W&WC are unable to fulfil their contract to supply the whiskey – which not a criticism of W&WC, but an inherent risk when dealing with any small company. In this case investors would be looking at up to 100% loss.

What then?

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Author: Bill Linnane

Freelance writer - or 'word whore' - with the Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Irish Tatler Man, Evening Echo, and Distilled. Proud owner of the award-defying TripleDistilled.Blog, Ireland's Least Successful Blog™.