In March 2013, REDD-Monitor wrote about a company called Anglo-Capital Partners, which was selling carbon credits as “a phenomenal alternative investment opportunity”. Last month, after an investigation by the Insolvency Service, Anglo-Capital Partners was ordered into liquidation in the High Court.
“Anglo-Capital Partners offers the usual boiler room type deal on carbon credits: carbon credits at inflated prices which the company claims will be worth a lot more at some point in the future,” I wrote eight months ago.
In his ruling in the High Court, Mr Registrar Baister said,
The usual factors are present in this case … namely making misleading and unfounded representations in order to sell carbon credits to the public for investment. In a nutshell the company sold by cold calling to a market of mainly retired people felt to be more vulnerable to such sales techniques and made extravagant claims for which there is no real justification.
Anglo-Capital Partners was one of Carbon Neutral Investments’ “clearing members”, right up until 22 April 2013, shortly before Carbon Neutral Investments split three ways. In March 2013, Tony Hetherington at the Daily Mail asked Paul Seakens, director of Carbon Neutral Investments, some questions about Anglo-Carbon Partners. Seakens told Hetherington that, “Anglo takes its responsibilities seriously in respect of treating customers clearly and fairly.”
The Insolvency Service’s investigation found Seakens’ comment to be simply untrue:
The investigation found that the company charged investors between £4.45 and £9.22 a credit and raised over £1 million by promising investors that the credits were a phenomenal investment opportunity and to expect returns of between 20-25 per cent within two years.
So Anglo-Capital Partners has joined a growing list of companies selling carbon credits as investments that have been shut down in the public interest after investigations by the Insolvency Service. Earlier this month, the Insolvency Service put out a press release boasting that 19 carbon credit scams have been closed down over a 15 month period.
But this is only scratching the surface of the many companies in London that are selling carbon credits as investments (along with other dodgy investments like rare earth metals, property overseas, land banking, fine wines and so on).
Out of the 19 companies shut down, only two directors have been disqualified. Writing on Naked Capitalism, Richard Smith comments,
I have to say, 2 directors, out of whatever number it takes to direct 19 companies, after 15 months, doesn’t sound like a particularly massive hit rate. Let’s say 90% of the scam company directors get the chance to scam again, with no visible blemish on their record. It’s more of a tickle than a thumping, isn’t it?
No mention of a recovery for the investors, either, most likely because there is none.
On 20 November 2013, another of Jolly’s companies, Green Planet Investment Limited, was ordered into liquidation in the High Court after an investigation by the Insolvency Service. The company was registered in both the UK and Gibraltar. The company’s 140 strong sales team used high pressure tactics to sell plots of land at three sites in Natal, Brazil: White Sands Country Club, White Sands Towers and Genipabu Beach Club. Investors were told that construction work at all three sites was underway. In fact, Jolly admitted to investigators, Green Planet had not started building work at any of the sites.
(There’s an entertaining discussion about Green Planet Investment Limited on whocallsme.com.)
In a press release, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Service Chris Mayhew said,
“Green Planet Investment was a slick land investment scheme designed to make money only for those with the company and not the 300 investors who were persuaded by false and misleading statements to invest over £14 million into an investment black hole.”
Which seems like a pretty good summary of the scam. Oddly enough, Green Planet’s three websites are all still live. Perhaps even odder, Brett Jolly remains director of more than 300 companies, many of which include the words “White Sands Country Club” in their title.
I wonder whether the Insolvency Service (or the City of London Police, for that matter) has access to duedil.com?