In 2010, Brett Goldsworthy’s company Shift2Neutral claimed to have REDD deals covering several million hectares in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil. Since then, things have gone pear shaped.
In October 2010, the environment minister of DR Congo declared the Shift2Neutral project “illegal” and “void”. In August 2011, the organisation running the project in Brazil wrote to REDD-Monitor saying that it had “severed all ties with Shift2Neutral”. Last year, Today Tonight Adelaide broadcast a programme about Goldsworthy, which raised serious questions about Shift2Neutral’s project in the Philippines. In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, journalist Ben Cubby wrote that Shift2Neutral, “appears to be a fake, shifting paper certificates instead of saving forests and cutting greenhouse emissions”.
Goldsworthy seems unshaken by any of this. In a June 2012 press release (which may or may not be a spoof), Shift2Neutral writes:
Goldsworthy. A reputation, not a name. Being worthy of the gold. A standard. Olympians aspire to achieve being gold worthy through trials, risks, and pushing the limits while bring national attention to their countries. However, there is a man whose very name is Goldsworthy. A man of investment risk, who has been proven through trial and risk, who has pushed the limits in a world that doesn’t understand and remains to tell the tale. That man is Australian, Brett Goldsworthy.
This week, Goldsworthy was back on Today Tonight Adelaide after he appeared in court over allegations that he pretended to be terminally ill in an attempt to avoid paying a tax bill. The programme can be viewed on Today Tonight Adelaide’s website (scroll down and click on “Goldsworthy Trial” in the bar on the left). Here is REDD-Monitor’s transcript of the programme:
Broadcast on Today Tonight Adelaide, 26 June 2012
Rosanna Mangiarelli: Now a bizarre new chapter for the man accused of operating a dubious global warming scheme. We first introduced you to Brett Goldsworthy last year, after a number of South Aussies alleged that they were stung along with others overseas. Well now he’s appeared in court on a separate matter over allegations he faked having a terminal illness to dodge a big tax bill.
Paul Makin takes up the story.
Brett Goldsworthy: Actually Paul, I really appreciate you coming and talking to me. I really do.
Vic Vidal: Because of his broken promises all of us are alarmed. We are mad with Mr. Brett Goldsworthy, to be honest.
Paul Makin: He not only got the tribes restless, he made them downright angry.
Indigenous Person: We believe because we see tall man white, white from West he a rich man and so we believe him immediately.
Brett Goldsworthy: I’d like to turn off the camera for the moment.
Paul Makin: For the moment.
Brett Goldsworthy: For the moment.
Paul Makin: Brett Goldsworthy created a company called Shift2Neutral and set himself up as a carbon credit trader with the world as his oyster.
Brett Goldsworthy: We’ve got a programme going on in Malaysia, we’ve got a programme going on in Indonesia. We have one that’s starting in the Solomons.
Paul Makin: This was Goldsworthy back in early 2011, claiming that everything was ticketyboo with multi-million dollar carbon offset projects in forests all over the globe.
Have you completed a project yet?
Brett Goldsworthy: Only in the Philippines.
Robert Hick: A lot of money. The project would have been a billion dollar project, of which half would have gone to Goldsworthy, of which I would have got a percentage of. The other half would have gone to the tribes.
Paul Makin: His former business partner Robert Hick had a front row seat to what went on in the Philippines.
Robert Hick: That carbon credit money was to be used for building schools and hospitals and get them out of poverty. They are extremely poor.
Paul Makin: But the money didn’t materialise. And Goldsworthy was persona non grata with the indigenous people.
Vic Vidal: We are really honest on our dealing with Brett Goldsworthy. We are honest, sincere and implementing our agreement, but question is, we are fooled, because no single dollar arrived to us.
Paul Makin: But Brett wasn’t phased.
Brett Goldsworthy: We work with certification groups around the world whether it be for using their standard or we set up our own certification standard.
Paul Makin: And Goldsworthy also dipped his toe into the media world. Boasting on his Beach Hut Media website he produced a heap of glossy TV spots like this Ford Mustang ad.
But our investigations revealed it was shot by a company that’s never heard of Brett Goldsworthy.
Now, if all of this seems bizarre, cop this. We found out Goldsworthy was in a Sydney court last week, suing this man, David Diamond. In his defence, Diamond claimed that in 2004 Goldsworthy approached him to take over a company called Point Blank Media. He alleges that Brett Goldsworthy told him he had terminal cancer and had to get out of the business. No money to change hands, just sign a waiver that Goldsworthy was no longer responsible for any debt incurred by that company and it was his, lock, stock and barrel.
There was just one small problem. An undisclosed tax debt of A$158,000. And eight years on, a very much alive Goldsworthy was still wanting David Diamond to pick up the tab.
Paul Makin: How’s it going Brett?
Brett Goldsworthy: Excuse me, I’m in a public place. I’d like you to leave me alone.
Paul Makin: Now you’re going to court again?
Brett Goldsworthy: No.
Paul Makin: Well, that’s another fib.
I just wanted to have a chat to you.
Brett Goldsworthy: I don’t want you to sit down, please.
Paul Makin: Well, can I talk to you in person?
Brett Goldsworthy: No, I’d like you to leave please.
Paul Makin: I’m leaving now.
So we settled in for what was supposed to be a two day trial in front of Judge Judith Gibson in the court, who acknowledged this was a very complex case with serious fraud allegations. Disputed by Goldsworthy, of course.
And David Diamond had found unexpected support.
Robert Hick: Definitely the way he tried to get out of it is despicable.
Paul Makin: And another former business partner who wanted to remain anonymous but recently won a court case against Goldsworthy and was awarded over A$300,000 in a company share dispute.
Now back to this case. And lo and behold, Goldsworthy had a sudden change of heart and it was all over before it started.
Arthur Carney: We can’t disclose the result. The case has been settled on terms of confidential. We can’t disclose it. But all I can say is we’re really pleased that the case is over and we’re really pleased that we don’t have to deal with Mr. Goldsworthy.
Paul Makin: Even David Diamond’s solicitor, Arthur Carney admitted to me that it was Today Tonight’s presence here at the courts that got Goldsworthy to the negotiating table before the trial began. No doubt he was rattled by us being here.
So your client is well and truly out of it?
Arthur Carney: He’s out of it, yes. It’s all finished. There’s no more involvement of Mr. Goldsworthy and we’re very happy about that.
Paul Makin: David, how do you feel?
David Diamond: I feel relieved that it’s at least over with, yes.
Paul Makin: The settlement might be confidential, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that Goldsworthy is now stuck with that enormous tax bill and that David Diamond can walk away a happy man, knowing that justice has been done.
While David Diamond is free of Goldsworthy’s clutches, the commissioner of taxation is just starting to get his clutches into Goldsworthy.
Robert Hick: I just hope the taxation department persue him for it. It’s already been delayed for a long, long time.
Paul Makin: The question to ask now is, what is the next episode in the Brett Goldsworthy saga?
Rosanna Mangiarelli: Thank you very much Paul. And we have found yet another Goldsworthy website where he claims he’s begun a fund-raising campaign for the Salvation Army. The Salvos say, that’s news to them. So we’ll certainly keep a watcher.