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Is the Knifton family behind Carbon Neutral Investments?

Is the Knifton family behind Carbon Neutral Investments?In November 2012, REDD-Monitor reported on a company called Enviro Associates. The BBC had secretly filmed Luke Ryan, a director of the company, making misleading claims about carbon credits as investments. Ryan said there was “serious money” to be made.

A company called Carbon Neutral Investments provides clearing and settlement services for several companies selling over the counter carbon credits, including Enviro Associates. At the time the post was written, Enviro Associates and Carbon Neutral Investments shared the same director, Paul Seakens, and the same address in London.

Seakens responded to REDD-Monitor’s questions on 6 December 2012. It presumably slipped his mind to mention that he had retired as director of Enviro Associates a few days previously.

A series of worrying comments from people who had had contact with Carbon Neutral Investments were posted following Seakens’ response. Meanwhile, the Financial Services Authority has a warning message on its site:

Several unauthorised firms promoting and selling carbon credits are telling investors that Carbon Neutral Investments Limited (CNI), a firm authorised by us, will handle the money in their investment. We believe this is done to suggest investors will be protected as though they are dealing with an authorised firm. But this is not correct.

While this warning is aimed more at the unauthorised firms selling carbon credits, the comments on REDD-Monitor suggest that the FSA should perhaps look at little more closely at Carbon Neutral Investment’s operations.

Thomas Knifton was director of Carbon Neutral Investments from 31 October 2011 to 15 January 2012. On his LinkedIn page, Knifton explains that he is an “Ex Owner – stake sold” of Carbon Neutral Investments. He states that his job was “Procurement of Carbon Credits for Offsetting purposes” from September 2010 to February 2012.

A cached page of Carbon Neutral Investment’s website, dated 20 November 2011, (available on explains that at that time the three principle partners were Paul Seakens, James Brown and Thomas Knifton. Here’s what it says about Knifton:

Tom started his career over 10 years ago as a stockbroker and in 2001 launched his own brokerage catering for discreet high net worth clients and corporate advisory work. Tom’s entry to the carbon market was trading EUAs and CERs culminating in launching Carbon Neutral Investments with James Brown and Paul Seakens to capitalise on what we feel is the fastest growing market, bringing a sense of control and stability into an unregulated field. Tom is a keen rugby player and an avid sailor. He can often be found on the Old Classics at Cowes or the fast paced racing yachts on the East Coast.

All three partners gained their first experience with carbon markets when they launched Carbon Neutral Investments.

In January 2010, the Financial Services Authority issued a Final Notice to a company called Falcon Securities about the way its subsidiary Montague Pitman Stockbrokers dealt with clients. The Financial Services Authority said that it would have fined Falcon Securities £240,000 except for the fact that the company went into administration.

The Knifton family’s fingerprints were all over this boiler room operation. Falcon Securities was a subsidiary of Alltrue Investments, whose chairman was Leo Knifton, Thomas Knifton’s father. Montague Pitman was founded by Richard Beese, David White and Thomas Knifton.

(Richard Beese and David White are also directors of a company called Bwcarbon Ltd, which shared the same address as MH Carbon, until MH Carbon changed its registered address. MH Carbon appears to be another boiler room carbon credit operation.)

At the time of the launch, Alltrue Investments owned 57.9% of Montague Pitman. Leo Knifton said,

Montague Pitman are a private-client stockbroker in the heart of the City, providing dynamic investment solutions across a range of financial products in today’s fast moving markets. They provide Private Investors with real time professional advice covering all major UK indices, including the FTSE 100, All Share, AIM and PLUS Markets as well as on PEPs, ISAs and CFDs.

But the FSA’s Final Notice makes clear that the “professional advice” provided by Montague Pitman sales team was in fact a high pressure sales pitch:

In 18 of the 38 transactions reviewed by the FSA, the adviser gave the client the impression that there was a need to move quickly to purchase shares, including suggesting that the firm had a limited allocation of shares which were already selling fast and could be sold out by the end of the day. Although it is possible that that they could have been sold out, analysis actually showed MPS continued to recommend the shares to other clients for several days after the recommendation.

An article in the Financial Times about Falcon Securities ran under the headline, “The little bucket shop of horrors”.

So how deep is the Knifton’s involvement in Carbon Neutral Investments? Did it end when Thomas Knifton retired his position as director in January 2012? Or is the Knifton family still pulling the strings?

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  1. Back at that time I was a client of Montague Pitman. I was mostly recommended penny shares. When Montague Pitman went in administration I was left with over 20 000 Pounds in losses. Luckily they were (and Falcon Securities)regulated by the FSA and at lest some money back.

    My brokers at Montague Pitman who sold me all these rubish shares under high pressure were Luke Ryan, now founder of Enviro Associates( selling worthless carbon credits).

    The other broker was Jonathan Cocks(together with Richard Beese and David White, founder of MH Carbon – sold also worthless carbon credits.
    Johnathan Cocks was als senior broker of Aston Lloyd( selling, worthless investments in agriculture land in the Ukraine and currently also worthless, investments in Jatropha plantation in Indonesia).

    Why worthless? Because I “invested” in all these projects and so far I (and many, many others)haven´t seen any or only a few pounds.

  2. Regarding Carbon Neutral Investments.

    I bought 1000 carbon credits from a company call Charles Stratton who, surprise, surprise, have now ceased trading.

    I was advised the credits were held in a Nominee Account with Carbon Neutral Investments.

    I have recently become aware that CNI have now been taken over by a company called GEMMAX SOLUTIONS.

    I have emailed Gemmax Solutions to try and determine status of my holding but, so far, have had no reply.

    Does anyone know anything about Gemmax Solutions ??

  3. Just to say I just got compensation out of the FSCS for Montague Pitman’a misdeeds.
    I used a claims company, who took a cut, I don’t know how much difference that made. The emphasis seems to be on warnings and my experience.

  4. Hi Steve, Can you please share the details of the claims company you used? I shall try the same approach. Thanks a lot in advance.

  5. I had initially purchased 540 units and payment was made in favour of CNI in their bank account in Lloyds Bank in early Dec. 2012. This was followed unfortunately with purchase of 1460 units and payment was made in fovour of Carbon Credit Offseting Ltd. in their bank account in RBS. in Mid Feb. 2013. Mr Rick Hopkinson was in contact with me thru Emails. Subsequently, his company CCO has vanished and so is their web sites and Emails addresses.

    I have checked with FCA and they have responded that this company is not registered with them. I have also complained to Action Fraud, but they have also not responded.

    Can somebody help me in recovering my investments.

  6. Unfortunately those who bought carbón credits for investment purposes have lost most , if not all of their investment capital.Essentially , the carbón credit investors have been duped by smooth talking salesmen and glossy websites. Conspiracy to defraud requires two elements – first deception , second damage to money-assets etc . This entire carbón credit investment debacle can safely be catergorised as a major conspiracy to defraud innocent greedy and gullible private retail invstors.Consequently, the pólice should be taken significant action against the perpetrators of this despicable and calculating crime.Unfortunately the investors have lost all their monies. A hard lesson has been learnt , namely do not buy investments from un-regulated firms over the telephone.An action group should be formed amongst the investors and they should contact the pólice economic crime unit as fast as posible.

  7. I am one of the unfortunate investor in Carbon Credits thru CCO in UK. I have already registered a complaint with Action Fraud three months ago and the complaint has been forwarded to West Yorkshire Police. I am awaiting a positive outcome.

  8. I worked for Montague Pitman briefly in 2008. I left months into the job because at best it was morally challenging and at worst it was outright criminal.