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Financial Conduct Authority wins High Court case against Capital Alternatives

In February 2014, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority won a case in the High Court against two investment schemes promoted by Capital Alternatives and other firms.

The FCA accused the firms of “promoting and/or operating collective investment schemes (CISs) in the UK illegally and without our authorisation”.

Judge Nicolas Strauss QC ruled that the schemes were collective investment schemes:

“I declare that all the schemes under consideration are, and have been since their inception, collective investment schemes within the meaning of Financial Services and Markets Act.”

The fact that the investment schemes were not authorised by the FCA means that they were operating illegally.

The FCA took out the case against the companies and individuals in July 2013. The case focussed on two investment schemes:

  • African Land (also known as Agri Capital) which offers investments in rice farm harvests in Sierra Leone, and is operated by African Land Limited.
  • Reforestation Projects (also known as Capital Carbon Credits) which offers investments in carbon credits generated from land in Sierra Leone, Brazil and Australia. It is operated by Reforestation Projects Limited.

The full list of defendants is as follows:

  1. Capital Alternatives Limited
  2. Capital Secretarial Limited
  3. Capital Organisation Limited
  4. Capital Administration Services Limited
  5. MH Trustees Limited
  6. Marcia Hargous
  7. Renwick Haddow
  8. Richard Henstock
  9. African Land Limited
  10. Robert McKendrick
  11. Alan Meadowcroft
  12. Regency Capital Limited
  13. Reforestation Projects Limited
  14. Mark Ayres/Eyres
  15. Mark Gibbs and
  16. The estate of David Waygood.

REDD-Monitor wrote about the hair-raising background of some of these companies and individuals in August 2013.

In a statement on FCA’s website, Tracey McDermott, FCA’s director of enforcement and financial crime, said:

“The FCA has an objective to protect consumers and enhance the integrity of the financial system. The Court’s ruling contributes to us achieving both. Collective investment schemes are complicated and investors put their money into the operator’s hands with no real control over what happens to their money. This ruling shows that even if operators have deliberately tried to structure their scheme to avoid regulation, the court will still look at whether those operating the scheme should in fact be regulated for consumer protection.”

Judge Strauss granted permission for African Land and Reforestation Projects’ Australian carbon credit scheme to appeal the decision. However, he rejected appeal pleas from Reforestation Projects’ Sierra Leone and Amazon carbon credit schemes.

In a statement on its website, African Land confirms that it will appeal:

African Land are pursuing an appeal to the Court of Appeal and have today obtained permission to do so. African Land is confident that its appeal will succeed. In the meantime Yoni Farm remains operational. Pending the appeal, African Land have agreed, at the request of the FCA, not to make any returns to investors either from rice harvests or land redemptions.

As journalist Andrew Penman at The Mirror points out, African Land made the bizarre claim that the High Court ruling was a victory:

“The FCA’s case against African Land was, in effect, presented as a fraud case. The underlying implication and tone of the FCA’s case was that the scheme was a sham. The African Land scheme has now been found to be a legitimate business.”

The reality, Penman writes, is that the court heard that the company sold more farmland to investors than it actually owns. “This is not a comfortable situation,” Judge Strauss commented. “Purchasers of some 4,300 acres have so far received no return and most of them still have no land allocated to them.”

Capital Alternatives, which marketed the scheme for African Land, took a 50% cut of the money invested. The money invested would therefore have had to double for investors just to break even. To sell the land, Capital Alternatives was advertising “Projected returns up to 175% in over five years.”

On its website, the FCA explains that the High Court ruling that the defendants were operating the collective investment schemes unlawfully means that the Court could order the defendants to pay compensation that can be passed on to the investors.

First though, investors have to wait for the appeal hearing and any remaining aspects of the case that still need to be ruled on by the Court. The FCA states that,

The FCA has explained to investors in each of the schemes that they do not need to take any action at this stage regarding the FCA’s case. At present, the previous undertakings and injunctions obtained by the FCA in July 2013 remain in place. Further information will be provided to affected investors when it is available.

Judge Strauss will rule on who will pay the FCA’s legal bill of £423,000 at a future hearing.

PHOTO Credit: Capital Alternatives’ stall at the UK Investor Show 2013.

UPDATE – 6 March 2014: Andrew Penman works at The Mirror. Capital Alternatives’ PR firm, City Road Communications, seems to think this is an important piece of information. Here’s more from City Road Communications.


Leave a Reply


  1. i was duped into buying into the australia project by capital alternatives. can you please advise what action i should take given this ruling? Thanks!

  2. Can someone please answer some or all my layman questions:
    Do or don’t I have an investment with Capital Alternatives & carbon credits?
    If Yes who is looking after it?
    If No do we know if the FCA will help in getting some of the funds back?
    Is Capital Alternatives Palm oil worth anything, it’s not mentioned in any of the schemes and no payments or contact?
    Basically I get the feeling that I am £35K down, not bad when you consider one of the directors mentioned above can take more than this per month to cover his expenses so the say the courts and is selling African logging.

  3. If Cap Alternatives lose their appeal, will the court order them to pay back investors like me? Would they have the funds to do so?

  4. I invested £20,000 in the Gola carbon credit. Can anyone let me know what the process is to recover some or all of these monies, now that Capital Alternatives have lost the court case?

  5. @nik – On its website, the FCA makes the following statement:

    The FCA has explained to investors in each of the schemes that they do not need to take any action at this stage regarding the FCA’s case. At present, the previous undertakings and injunctions obtained by the FCA in July 2013 remain in place. Further information will be provided to affected investors when it is available.

    If you are not already in contact with the FCA I would suggest getting in touch with them – click here for their contact details. I would also recommend getting in touch with Action Fraud and Crimestoppers:

  6. @Tony – I assume you have handed over money to Capital Alternatives in exchange for carbon credits. I don’t know where your carbon credits are, or even whether they exist. Sorry. But even if you did know where they are, the trouble is that there is no secondary market for voluntary carbon credits. Which means that they are very difficult to sell.

    This presentation by Andrew Ager (ex-head of carbon and emissions at Bache Commodities) to the City of London Police is a very good explanation of why voluntary carbon credits are not a suitable investment.

    On its website, the FCA explains that,

    As the Court has ruled that these are collective investments schemes which the defendants were operating unlawfully it may order the defendants to pay compensation that can be passed on to the investors. (emphasis added)

    But before that can happen we have to wait for any appeal hearing and its outcome.

    I don’t know anything about Capital Alternatives’ palm oil investments, I’m afraid.

    I would recommend getting in touch with the FCA, Action Fraud and Crimestoppers – see this comment, above.

  7. @XYZ – On its website, the FCA explains that the Court may order the defendants to pay compensation that can be passed on to the investors. Whether the defendants have the funds to do so is the £16.9 million question. You can check the financial status of the companies on the website – Capital Alternatives currently has liabilities of £357,200, for example.

    I would recommend getting in touch with the FCA, Action Fraud and Crimestoppers – see this comment, above.

  8. Does anybody know where Capital Alternatives are. They have 3 different addresses in correspondence , each with the same phone number never answered. I went to the county court to get my money back. CA did not even respond so I was given judgement to get my 37.5K back even before the high court decision. The Bailiffs are finding the gentleman from CA difficult to track. If any of them are out there perhaps we can arrange a time to meet the bailiffs. Please feel free to arrive by Aston Martin or helicopter.
    All of this does not make sitting tight look an attractive plan.

  9. I have invested a lot off money though these people concerned, will I ever get my money back,112,500 to African rice land and 75,263 to QGI(prime)ltd,as due to ongoing court case I don’t know what to expect this was my frozen pension though a company I worked 4r all my life am I being conned

  10. Hi Samuel

    Not sure who QGI are (or were).
    If you invested thro a SIPP and/or financial adviser. you have a better chance than the rest of us of recovering some money. You should check out Regulatary Legal who have posted on some blogs.

  11. I am from Australia. I’ve invested $58,850 with Capital Alternatives in Rice, Carbon Credits, and Palm oil. I’ve received no returns yet. Can you please tell me, am I going to lose all my money, or there is a hope? Can you please advice me what to do?

  12. @Tamara Socratous – I’m sorry to hear about this. I’m afraid I can only repeat the advice given in comments here, here, and here. If you have not already done so, please get in touch with the FCA, Action Fraud, and Crimestoppers – see this comment for contact details.

  13. Tamara
    Capital Alternatives in Australia have reinvented themselves as Velvet Assets (they have a website).
    Hope this helps – The same chap Geoff Woodcock is running it

  14. I am from Australia, a retired school teacher/church minister, age 77, and I too appear to have been duped. I am stupid and gullible as it is not the first time that I have been taken down. However, this is the most serious of all as it was for $115,000. My wife and I lost more than half our life’s saving in the 2008 crash and this was by far our biggest investment. I happened to see about it just at the time when we had a large amount of cash. The salesman was Brendon Goldsworthy and much of what he told us was simply not true, but I believed him. (He has since been dismissed I understand.) My wife and I are both devastated by this loss as there is no way that we will ever be able to make it up. We both worked hard all or lives (particularly her at her teaching – first to school in the morning and last to leave at night) and now for this to happen to us it is almost more than we can bear.

  15. Can someone tell me more about Geoff Woodcock? Does anyone know more about him and velvet assets? I invested in palm Oil, Wheat and Rice and haven’t received any returns yet and they keep making excuses, and Geoof Woodcock appears to be the ringleader in all this but won’t take any calls on it. Does anyone have more info i can take to the authorities?

    > LEN, TAMARA, JOE and anybody else.

    I know many of the details surrounding the comments above and much more. I choose to remain anonymous for now. for anybody wanting more in depth information write an email to:

    Capital Alternatives Australia was run by the same director, Geoff Woodcock as Velvet Assets. his name may not have been on the directorship, but its the same guy, who is also in partnership (splitting profits/investor money) with Renwick Haddow (google his name for more info). Many inconsistencies began arising mid 2013. Companies in due diligence documents were seemingly just fabricated, and logos were lifted from other companies. Parties in the wheat investment were contacted by brokers at the company and the company had absolutely no idea who capital alternatives or velvet where. A huge amount of money didnt reach the rice investment and there was a legal battle to resolve this. There was much more.

    There was a 2-3 day period where roughly 7 brokers both junior and senior all quit and walked out. The brokers did not wish to partake in something which had so many inconsistencies. To address Len above, I know this broker personally and what you have been told from velvet about the circumstances of him leaving is absolute utter rubbish, he left because things arose that didnt make sense, and when he confronted the director he was told he was just a salesman, it was none of his business, above his pay-grade, and to get back on the phone. He left very shortly after this. If you wish to speak with him Len, I know he would be more than happy to talk to you. leave your phone number or email in a comment and I will pass it on to him.

    Every single product promoted by capital alternatives as “unique products by unique promotors”, it is now seemingly obvious as returns are late, and nothing is paying out that these were all run by friends and assosciates of the top Capital Alternatives UK director. “Patsies” names may have been used on directorships to protect certain people, but it appears nothing was unique.

    No products promoted by Capital Alternatives nor Velvet Assets have EVER paid capital back to our knowledge.

    We have made direct contact with companies claimed to be involved in the wheat investment. They have absolutely no idea who velvet or capital alternatives are. We suspect the wheat project does not exist. The FIRST returns are now almost 6 months late.

    Palm Oil which is apparently a fixed return, is also 6 months late.

    Before the brokers walked out, returns were paid on time, after they left and the money flow into the investments was stagnated, they werent. Money flow into investment should not affect payouts. Whilst there is no proof as yet, it certainly smells like ponzi. Who knows perhaps its all just a co-incidence that the returns for 4 are all non-existent now.

  17. Thanks – really appreciate your detailed information. I invested in Cap Alternatives African Land scheme (Sierre Leone). If the UK courts order Cap Alt to repay investors, how many cents in the dollar/pence in the pound are we likely to receive? Or do you think the money is all gone? Thanks!

  18. Further to the above – I initially dealt with Laura Hunt, later I was passed to Jack Bone and finally to Moses – sorry forgot his surname. Are these names familiar to readers?

  19. I dont believe its the brokers in this case to take aim at, rather they’re directed to sell by people like Renwick Haddow and Geoff Woodcock. I also know they’ve now setup in Dubai under Platinum Commodities, so beware ANYONE looking at this as a possible opportunity. Also beware of VELVET ASSETS in Australia. These guys are scammers through and through. They put on fronts like it is all upfront and honest and its just lies and they don’t care who they con. Haddow and Woodcock, Mark Eyres etc are the true criminals here.

  20. I posted my comment on 9th May and since that time I have been contacted by a number of people involved in this matter. Therefore I need to correct a couple of statements that I made. One of my sentences read-

    “The salesman was XXXX XXXX and much of what he told us was simply not true, but I believed him. (He has since been dismissed I understand.)”

    I inadvertently named the salesman involved but his name has now been replaced by the XXXX XXXX. I stand by my statement that much of what he said was not true, but I will now add that he was passing on to us the situation as he understood it and thought it to be. Secondly I was told by those who are currently running Velvet Assets that he was dismissed, but I now believe that this is not true – the truth is that he and a number of others, resigned when they discovered some of the true facts about the company.

    What has become clear to me is that this is indeed a murky business and that I have very little hope of recovering much of my money. I hope that I am wrong – but I think not.

  21. Sadly Len I think that you are right. However, all the action so far has taken place in the UK. Marcia Hargous, one of the guilty defendants, is Australian and it is believed that she is back in Australia. There needs to be some action taken in Australia to get a judgement against the guilty parties over there. Eventually one of them is going to break ranks and tell the truth in order to get a lighter sentence. It may even have started already. It isn’t really acceptable for brokers to claim they are innocent parties unless they have gone to the authorities and made a statement. To my knowledge only one broker in the UK has done that. Whilst the FCA have not prosecuted the brokers that does not mean that investors will not mount their own prosecutions. There are several legal options available to investors which are likely to be followed if there is a shortfall for investors. Prosecuting brokers is one of those options. Innocent brokers would be co-operating with the authorities, guilty ones will be keeping their heads down.

  22. Hi Len and others

    I believe that brokers/salesmen that duped us all are now posting on this site – either to get us to invest more or alleviate their plight. It seems strange that all has gone quiet since Court Watcher posted. All investors need to keep remembering that we got duped cos we are trusting and we need to beware of anyone who was ever associated with any of these firms. Everyone one of them were out to dupe us and if they haven’t given evidence to the authorities they are out to dupe up AGAIN !! – Even if it is just to save their own skin.

  23. Investmenttransparency is not answering enquiries to the email address he/she has supplied. This invitation to communicate with an anonymous individual, who apparently has more information, appears somewhat suspicious.

  24. Bit sad – this was a place where we who had been duped could come together – I do hope it hasn’t been hijacked by people who were selling dud goods BUT, by the silence that now prevails, I think it might have been. Investors should NOT give up, if you feel shy of posting here because of what has gone on recently there are other sites, but you can still post here and ignore those that as always promise things they were never going to give. I was pleased to see Australians joining us but it appears that the sellers of this s… go to them.






  26. Anyone who has had any dealings with Capital Alternatives or Velvet Assets should read a new article called We Harvest You Profit. Its mainly about the rice investment but no doubt the wheat or CCs are probably similar
    The article and press release are
    We Harvest You Profit
    Happy (?) reading

  27. I invested in 2 lots of palm oil with Capital Alternatives and like everyone else have not been paid my dividends.
    I have now been approached by Platinum Alternatives who have said that they will transfer 50% of my palm oil holdings to Voiptel and as for the other 50% of my holdings, that too will be transferred if I give them another cash outlay to the value of the 50% of the holdings. They have promised a return of 9% annually paid monthly on the total amounts and my capital returned in 18 months.It all sounds too good to be true and I just smell a rat somewhere.
    Has anyone been offered the same deal?

  28. Have any of you invested in AgriFirma Capital Limited’s
    (AFCL) wheat farm? I’ve and I am a victim. AgriFirma Capital Limited (AFCL) is closely associated with Capital Alternatives. Managing director of AFCL is Richard Henstock; who is also one of the board members of Capital Alternatives.

  29. @ Too trusting I have been offered a similar deal. I didn´t have an opportunity speak with Platinum Commodities yet though. The letter I received didn´t have a name and date on it. Which bank´s letter of credit were you offered? Do you know VoIP Tel is registered in Russia? We can kiss our money goodbye once it enters Russia.

  30. Does anyone know if this Vodacom which sells VOIP time is a legitimate business? It has an address in Bulgaria which sounds a bit suss. There is a solicitor’s letter of guarantee. All phoney?

  31. Hi
    Yes you should smell a rat.
    You say Platinum Alternatives have contacted you. I have hears of Platinum Commodities, an offshoot of Capital Alternatives. Did you get a letter and do you have a contact name?

  32. I think Vodacom is a name Vodaphone use in South Africa. This is definitely not vodaphone!!!

  33. Richard Henstock and Co have appointed liquidators.
    It is very IMPORTANT that investors make contact with the liquidators ASAP

    Resolutions for Winding-up

    (Company Number 07692576 )
    Registered office: 23-24 Westminster Buildings, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 6LG

    Principal trading address: Mayfair House, 124 New Bond Street, London, W1S 1DX

    At a General Meeting of the members of the above named Company, duly convened and held at The Holly Bush Inn, Holly Bush Lane, Priors Marston, Warwickshire, CV47 7RW on 09 July 2014 the following resolutions were duly passed as a Special and as an Ordinary Resolution:

    “That it has been proved to the satisfaction of this meeting that the Company cannot, by reason of its liabilities, continue its business, and that it is advisable to wind up the same, and accordingly that the Company be wound up voluntarily and that Anthony John Sargeant, of Bridgewood Financial Solutions Ltd, 23-24 Westminster Buildings, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 6LG, (IP No. 9659) be and he is hereby appointed Liquidator for the purposes of such winding up.”

    Further details contact: Tel: 0115 871 2926.

    Richard Henstock, Chairman

  34. On one hand I feel sorry for most off you people, but I know Geoff and have met him a few times, he goes around the world finding gullible young boys whom he promises riches as long as they sell air by putting pressure on the clients. None of his investments exist. He refuses to be a director for any of his firms because that way nothing goes back to him. Geoff is part of a group of English con artists who are targeting retirees in Australia , New Zealand and Dubai. Geoff Woodcock should be in jail. On another note if you are too stupid to invest money in people you have never heard about then maybe you deserve this

  35. I have had the same offer as To Trusting. I have invested about $67000 in this scam and they are trying to get more out of me.

  36. Hi Tom

    I am from the UK and loads of us have been duped too.
    Don’t for one minute think we don’t feel very stupid – we do. That is probably why so few of us are squaring up to these crooks whilst the FCA and SFO in UK just look to get them for a collective and score brownie points. At some point the investors even a few of us (as stupid as we are) will get these b……s

  37. @Tom: Victims have already lost a lot of money. The last thing we need is to be criticised for being naive and gullible.

    Action fraud doesn’t seem to take any notice of our complains despite the compelling evidence we provided them. FCA has also clearly let us know that they won’t take any action for the time being against Capital Alternatives for their Australian land schemes.

    People like Richard Henstock have walked away with investors’ money time after time. Why don’t you criticise the authorities for being reluctant and sending us discouraging replies instead of taking action in public interest? Don’t you believe it’s high time these crooks were arrested?

  38. Jack Bone now runs his own business First Asset Class Limited i think again doing some spam here

  39. @Geoff Hackett (Re. Capital Alternatives ‘CA’)

    1. Mate which office you are after – UK or AUS?
    2. Do you know that CA (AUS) have changed their name to Velvet Assets in Aug 2013?
    3. AUS Office contact details below –
    Level 11, 100 William Street,
    Sydney NSW 2000
    1800 266 113
    +61 2 9356 8457
    +61 2 9331 2920
    4. Please feel free to share your experience (especially the VA contact name and his advise). All the best.

  40. @Tamara Socratous (Re. Rice, CC, Palm)
    1. Very sorry to hear but please do not blame yourself and you are not alone.
    2. I am also from AUS and like you I’ve also invested pretty decent amount of money ($100 000+) in those projects.
    3. Are you happy to exchange email ID’s so that we could tackle this issue locally?

  41. @Duped (Re. Geoff Woodcock)

    Mate Geoff no longer works for CA/ VA (Australia). Apparently he had resigned mid 2014 due to personal reasons.

  42. @Len (Salesman name)

    1. Like you, I am also from Australia and have had invested $100K+.
    2. As I mentioned to Tamara (another investor from Australia), are you happy to exchange email ID’s so that we could share our experiences locally?
    3. I am quite keen to know more about this salesman you dealt with. By the sound of it, I might also dealt with the same guy but happy to share my experience.

  43. @XYZ (Re. dollar/pence)

    1. Mate the best advise would be to band together locally (investors who were also duped with these fraudsters) and take legal actions against these fraudsters (Brokers).
    2. Look for Bob Gaston’s very recent post in my earlier post link (@ Joe B).
    3. And the answer to your question is by asking you a question – what if they can prove to the court that they are broke/ bankrupt/ or are into administration (I am pretty sure by now they have got deep pockets to get a good quality lawyers (QC) which can easily prove this).

  44. @Grizzly (Investment Transparency)
    1. You are absolutely right mate. I did also send him a tons of mails (reminders and more reminders) but have had not received any insights(whatsoever). After reading his post I ought to believe that he is a genuine person (even addressed him as a Good Samaritan in my first mail) but his actions proved me wrong.
    2. Even after giving him lots of information about my investments and the brokers I was dealing with (without compromising my identity), he did not believe me to be a legitimate investor. I find it extremely hard to believe this as the kind of information which I had sent to him and the level of understanding and the knowledge I had about the brokers and the directors, I came to a conclusion that this guy is not a genuine guy.
    3. By the way I am still awaiting his reply to my mail (02/09/2014) and another friendly reminder (05/09/2014).

  45. @Too Trusting (VOIPtel offer)

    1. My dear friend you are not alone. Almost everyone who had have invested (CCC, Wheat, Rice, Palm Oil, Bamboo) most likely have received a call from Platinum Commodities.
    2. Please not to be so gullible to trust these fraudsters again and lose another couple of thousand quids of your hard earned money.

  46. @Koning (Scam Watch and ASIC)
    1. Mate I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard Scam Watch guy telling me they can’t do anything other than updating my concerns to their database. They are federal funded organisation, which are literally meant to safeguard our interests and escalate these issues to the relevant authorities.
    2. ASIC was no different at all. The lady I spoke with showed little empathy to my concerns. She literally laughed at one point which made me to think how serious she is. Her advice was that ‘they can’t do anything to these dodgy salesmen as they are not registered or regulated under the financial regulatory act.
    3. As a matter of fact Police also do not care much on this (hard to believe, isn’t it). Their upfront advise was to contact Scam Watch, ACCC, or ASIC. So, I can’t go to Police, Scam Watch, or ASIC, so who else is left – a lawyer?
    4. If are based in Australia and would like to share your experience with brokers/ salesmen and interested in exchanging email ID’s to tackle this issue locally then you are welcome to do?

  47. @Tom (Re. may be you deserve this)
    1. Mate your comment was a bit harsh.
    2. You pointed out that you met Geoff Woodcock a few times and knew what he up to. If this was the case then why didn’t you inform the relevant authorities on his modus operandi? In doing so, you would have helped hundreds of investors’ hard-earned money falling into these dodgy fraudsters and regarded as a true hero.
    3. Just wondering whether you’re also an investor and have lost money in these dodgy deals, or you know him personally – just curious?

  48. 1. Just wondering whether anyone has ever been contacted by Plantation Asset Management (PAM) directly?
    2. If yes, could you please share your experience and especially the contact person’s name and what was his advise?
    3. Any Australian who wishes to share her/ his experiences with CA/ VA locally and is interested in exchanging email ID’s please feel free to respond?

  49. I keep receiving these e mails headed “Financial Conduct Authority wins High Court case against Capital Alternatives.” But what does it mean? Are the UK authorities pursuing the directors? When will we know how much we are likely to get back? I am invested in their African land deal. Appreciate if anyone knows anything. I am not in the UK so I don’t see UK newspapers or news reports. Thanks.

  50. @YT: I spoke with a senior lawyer in Financial Services Enforcement team of Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in Sydney, Australia. He said, Capital Alternatives (that collected investor’s money through Agrifirma Capital Limited) first of all, did not have any financial services license to operate in Australia. They were registered in Australia along with Agrifirma Capital Limited as a British overseas company.

    When ASIC received complaints and closed down Capital alternatives and Agrifirma capital limited, the individuals behind these companies reinvented themselves as “velvet assets” (another company) and started selling fraudulent investment schemes to gullible investors.

    When ASIC closed down velvet assets, the individuals behind these companies quickly re-opened another company to continue their operations. So, ASIC is now after the individuals running these companies and not the companies themselves.

    Neither of these companies had any money left in their bank accounts for the Australian authorities to freeze them. Also, they didn’t own any land so there’s not much ASIC can do when it comes to refunding investors as of now. They were experts in very quickly moving money, from one back account to another around the world. I was advised to contact the serious fraud office in the UK.

    I have already filed my complaint to the SFO in the UK. FCA in the UK does not seem interested in taking any action against Agrifirma capital limited because they quote the investment is unregulated. However, I must let you know that FCA does not regulate investment schemes backed by physical assets; which was supposed to be the case with Agrifirma Capital Limited. This was pure theft. There’s no wheat and there was no farm. They completely closed down the company and my money has gone without a trace.

  51. @Koning
    Thanks for your inputs.
    1. (Re. ASIC closed down Velvet Assets ‘VA’) Where did you get this info from? As a matter of fact, VA is still operating with skeleton staff. If you still do not believe me then feel free to call below numbers –
    1800 266 113
    +61 2 9356 8457
    +61 2 9331 2920
    2. (Re. ASIC closed down Capital Alternatives ‘CA’) Again mate, where did you get this info? My understanding is that CA name was changed to VA due to FCA, UK court case (to preserve and segregate themselves from their parent company and the court case defaming) and surely not due to ASIC.
    3. (Re. ASIC is now after the individuals…) Had this be the case then GW would have not flown out of the country for leisure activities and instead serving a long jail term with his coterie of fraudsters.
    4. If you are an Australian then would you mind sharing who you dealt with at CA/ VA for your investments?
    5. I also would like to file a complaint to SFO, UK. Could you please pass on their details so that other investors can also approach them directly and promptly?
    6. (Re. Pure Theft) You are absolutely spot on. They MUST be prosecuted for –
    a) Wilful blindness
    b) Misrepresentation
    c) Fraud by deceive

  52. Hi. My wife and I, invested the total of $93,000 with Capital alternatives.Palm oil, Carbon Cr. and Rice. Velvet Assets took over which I think is exactly the same company as Capital Al. James Gardner from Velvet is telling me that we haven’t lost our money but I really don’t believe him. Can you please tell me what is he telling you about this Platinum Commodities company? He is telling me that if we transfer our money with them we’ll have some returns. What do you know? my email is

  53. Has anybody had any dealings with Brookcourt Trading? They seem to have been associated with Brookepoint Trading who were themselves linked to Bradlodge. Their website is very vague, containing little that is not extracted from Wikipedia, and the “Blog” page is a joke.

  54. @YT

    I don’t feel comfortable sharing my contact details in a public forum but if you can let me know your e-mail address I’ll be happy to write to you. I can let you know more about my contact at ASIC.

  55. @XYZ (Re. keep receiving these e mails…)

    Very simple mate! You have subscribed to receive all updates related to this thread – “Financial Conduct Authority wins High Court case against Capital Alternatives”. Just unsubscribe it and you won’t receive any updates, but will it be a good idea?

  56. @YT: You can report to SFO in the UK through this link.—provide-information-in-confidence.aspx

    However, SFO would handle cases only when they’re serious and complex.

    I’m not from Australia but my investments are in Australia. I’ve been after these crooks for a year now, along with other investors in the UK. We’re dealing with a network of companies.

    All the companies like Capital Alternatives, Velvet Asset, African land, Plantation asset management, lakewood asset management, Platinum commodities …etc are linked together and owned by a few individuals. When you file your complaint to SFO, please establish this fact.

    I’ve been in contact with Action Fraud, FCA, the insolvency service & ASIC in this regards. If you drop me a line, we can have a chat. For me, it’d be nice to get in touch with victims in Australia so that we can be informed of any developments.

  57. @Steve (Re. James Gardner from Velvet Assets)
    Just wondering whether you’ve received my mail regarding Platinum Commodities?

  58. @Koning
    1. (Re. SFO link) Thanks mate for sharing the link. Unfortunately ‘’ uses an invalid and expired security certificate, and due to this error the link is coming out to be from untrusted connection – so can’t open that link. But I have found another way to report via email (
    2. (Re. contact details) Same privacy concerns here mate. Let me think of another way on how can we share our experiences and learn from it and help others (actually I know a way around and you might know this as well if you know RDBMS and relationship concepts).

  59. @XYZ,
    You asked for information on what it all means. This is what I know.
    The defendants were all found guilty of running illegal schemes. Those schemes were African Land rice in Sierra Leone, carbon credits in Brazil, Sierra Leone and Australia.
    African Land rice and the Australian carbon credits were allowed to appeal and the appeal hearing is scheduled for 27th and 28th January. The Brazil and Sierra Leone carbon credit projects were refused a right to appeal.
    Anyone found guilty of running an illegal scheme can have their assets seized and the money raised can be paid back to investors. All of the defendants were required to tell the FCA about their assets but the chances are that they are hiding some of them. It is the FCA’s role to track down the assets (money, houses, items of value) and repay investors.
    The process of recovery depends on how many people are guilty and how much blame is apportioned to each of the guilty parties. At the moment all of them are guilty but blame cannot be apportioned because half of them have appealed. The guilty verdict against the people who have appealed may be overturned. Therefore, everything is on hold until the appeal has been heard and the final position of how many end up being judged guilty has been decided.
    The FCA and the legal counsel for the defendants agreed that the trial would only cover whether the schemes were legal or not. There is a second allegation made by the FCA that the defendants made “false and misleading statements” to investors.
    The first trial is enough for the FCA to confiscate assets and distribute to investors. The second trial, which it is believed the FCA are still going to pursue, will determine whether any of them will go to prison.
    It would be sensible for anybody outside of the UK to contact their own financial regulator to see if they are taking any action. Geoff Woodcock / Velvet Assets / Citola are all based in Australia and have questions to answer. In a number of cases their relationships with some of the defendants goes back to long before these illegal schemes and you have to wonder if they are covering things up. It should be fairly easy for the Australian authorities to check out the land ownership for the carbon credits, the payments made to Citola and whether any investor actually got the sub-lease they paid for.

  60. See the posts on the blog about Sterling and Bond and Voiptel. They have information which ties into this blog.

  61. Dear Court Watcher,

    Thanks for your detailed reply. Do you know what sort of remit the UK authorities have in going after their assets – i.e. assets in UK only or anywhere in the world. Assets in relatives names, other company names, etc?


  62. @XYZ, the defendants have to list their worldwide assets and all of them can be confiscated if needs be. However, it becomes a bit of a game with defendants hiding assets or putting them in the name of their spouse or claiming that there are other liabilities which ties up the asset. For example, several defendants have properties. In some cases those properties are owned by corporate entities, e.g by limited companies, and it is a question of who owns the shares in the company and what liabilities does the company have i.e how much does it owe in mortgages, loans etc. Those liabilities will have preference over the FCA. The shares might be owned by an offshore company which is owned by another offshore company which is owned by another offshore company. It can be a lengthy process trying to find out the ultimate owner of an asset.
    If they were expecting to be prosecuted at some point they will have ensured that all of their assets are difficult to trace from the start. It all depends on how tenacious the FCA specialists are in digging into the money trail. The defendants will have known that one day they would be prosecuted. Many of them are repeat offenders. The FCA have made it clear that investors rarely get back anywhere near what they paid in.
    If you take Renwick Haddow as a case in point. He was a disqualified director who owed money to the taxman. He avoided bankruptcy by agreeing to an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) where he would pay a monthly sum to the government to pay off the debt. He was required to declare any change in his financial position. If he came into money the IVA could be changed to pay back the debt quicker. There is a big question mark over whether he told the taxman about his very large payments from Capital Alternatives. If he didn’t tell them he has committed a criminal offence.
    The person who controlled the money at Capital Secretarial and Capital Alternatives was Marcia Hargous. She has gone to ground in Australia to make life difficult for investigators. If anyone knows where the money went it would be her and she was a central figure in all of the scams.

  63. Hi,

    I also invested in the Carbon Credits scheme in Australia, and have had a similar experience to others. James Gardner from CA (now VA) has been my primary contact person, his contact has been very limited in recent months. I was also offered the transfer option to the VoIPtel investment but have not researched or considered this option as I have no faith in any of the promises that are made by anyone associated with Velvet Assets (so that includes Platinum Commodities). I am following this post for any further advice or information that can help us take appropriate action on this despicable fraud.

    I understand the concern people have regarding sharing emails in this public space. I wonder if there are any other ways of us coming together to discuss this issue?

    @ Steve Socratous I have emailed you.

  64. To YT –
    I have just had a good read through all the comments on REDD MONITOR and have seen what you wrote. I would be interested to get in touch with you, so if you reply to me via e-mail this will be a good way to establish contact and I’d be happy to phone you.
    Also, I have mentioned my large investment in Capital Alternatives to Centre-link, and if I can show in writing that it is now frozen this will make a big difference to the amount of pension I receive each month. Is there anywhere in print that I can find a written statement to this effect?
    Len Martin.

  65. @ Len Martin
    1. Re. establish contact. Please leave your email ID and I will contact you. Are you based in Australia?
    2. Re. frozen. I might defer to you on this, however, happy to discuss over the mail. Have you contacted Velvet Assets/ PAM (Australia and UK office) on this? What did they say?
    3. Re. pension. I have no idea on your financial situation but with limited or no income source I can really feel for you mate.
    4. If you know anyone with similar situation please bring them along.

  66. @YT and @Len Martin – Leaving your email in a public discussion like this means that you could be contacted by anyone. That could include someone pretending to be YT, but actually isn’t.

  67. It seems like we should contact some big law firms to see if they are prepared to take on a class action to sue the directors of all the companies involved. I will start talking to some lawyers and post on this site if I find someone who want to take it on.

  68. There is a fresh aspect to this matter. I was contacted last week by a gentleman claiming to work for Credit Mutuel in London. He asked if I would be prepared to sell my holdings in African Rice, Timber and Palm Oil projects for about twice the amount that I paid. Too good to be true? Yes. Incidentally he insisted that I sign a non-disclosure agreement.
    I called Credit Mutuel in London and they had never heard of this gentleman. I am expecting another call from him or his partner very soon. It has to be a sting but how will it work? Will they ask for me to pay some expenses before I can get the money? Or what other tricks can they play?

  69. @L
    1. Was James Gardner the ONLY person who ever contacted you? If not, could you please share their names and your experience with them please? And whether anyone has had advised your the ground reality beforehand?
    2. I understand that you are based in Australia? Is it possible if we could join hands and share our local experience and learn from it, and take educated/ informed decision?
    3. Who did contact you for VoIPTel Investment? Would you mind sharing their name(s) please?
    4. Just wondering whether (Re. Steve Socratous) replied back to you? Reason for asking is that I also sent him a very detailed mail but till date no response so I wondered whether he really is a genuine person.
    5. Did you ever contact PAM? If yes, what was your experience?
    6. Re. not researched. If you are/ were in doubt, please read comment #85 from below link.

  70. @ Life Savings Gone! (#73)
    1. Re. Conversation with Lawyers – Any luck with it? Are you based in Australia?
    2. Re. Class Action – It is a good thought mate but I don’t think any good firm will wait for a group of investors to contact them. Rather they will start with one investor (who can pay the initial fee, roughly AUD$10,000 and then more money) and might join by other investors at later stages (but the class action will be a separate case altogether).

  71. @ Concerned (#74)
    1. Re. Timber – Mate could you shed some light on this investment please? Where was this project located and the name of the person/ company who contacted you for this investment and its breakdown (how much % of returns were promised/ guaranteed?)?
    2. Any other information will be much appreciated.

  72. Could everyone (investors who lost their hard earned money because of these fraudsters) please do me a favor?
    1. Please share names, designations, and company/ project name and addresses of those brokers/ promoters/ project developers/ client managers/ operations or anyone who was/ is (past/ present) associated with these fraudulent companies.
    2. Please feel free to write professional feedback/ comments about these guys and their companies in Social and Professional Networks (for example, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Let others know about their modi operandi and leave no stone unturned in exposing them. This will help others to make an informed decision/ opinion and prevent them investing their hard earned money on these dodgy investments. I am very confident that these fraudsters are still operating somewhere and targeting gullible investors with claims and propositions which are too good to be true.
    3. Please feel free to pass on the above to your near and dear ones including professional/ social contacts and let them use the power of Social and Professional Networking to expose these crooks.

  73. @YT:

    Here are the contact details of cold callers from platinum commodities offering VoIPTel swaps.
    Deon Reese
    Strategic Acquisition Adviser
    Sam Taylor
    Senior Acquisition Adviser
    Office: +44 (0) 845 867 5487
    UK Office:
    Platinum Commodities
    Level 18
    40 Bank Street
    E14 5NR
    United Kingdom
    We’ve made some interesting progress. You should try and get in touch with us so that we can share some crucial information with you. Please go to and write to users passingcloud or bloque by leaving your telephone number in a private message and we’ll reach you.

  74. @ Koning (#80)
    1. Re. Deon Reese. In case if you are not aware that Deon Reese is a South African and his real name is Weihahn Gerber.
    2. Re. Private Message. Can I give them your reference?

  75. @YT

    Thanks for letting me know the real identity of Deon Reese. Weihahn Gerber was the chap that was running Lakewood asset management. How did you learn this, if I may ask?
    Please go ahead and send a private message in Money saving expert’s(MSE)forum. We hope to discuss things in more detail.

  76. The appeal by Capital Alternative and African Land was heard last week. It may take a couple of months for the decision to be announced

  77. Hi – new to this forum and getting up to speed.

    My mother in law has invested/lost her entire life savings in the African Land/Capital Alternatives scheme and is now penniless and we’ve had to take her in. At the time she was living in Cyprus and was introduced to the scheme via an intermediary, who surprisingly has disappeared.

    She has engaged a lawyer who has advised that the best course of action is to hope the FCA can recover some of the assets. Can anyone advise if she should do anything else, eg she has not contacted the SFO or Fraud Action etc. Any mileage in her doing so?

    Are there any Action Groups set up by investors that she could get involved in to pool resources and bring a class action against these fraudsters.

    She no longer has any funds to pay the lawyer and is old/ cant use the internet etc, so I will be driving this for her.

    Any advice would be appreciated

  78. Richard,
    There are other blogs on this site referring to African Land/Capital Alternatives. Check on those too. In my opinion you should:
    1. Contact the FCA because they seem to be dealing with all aspects of this case. Make sure your mother in law is on their list should any funds be recovered. Chances are that they are in contact with Action Fraud and SFO anyway. They might be interested in the Cyprus connection.
    2. Contact the journalist who wrote the article in this blog . Her name is Khadija Sharife. She found some Cyprus connections and might be able to help find the people who persuaded your mother in law to invest.
    3. If there is a support group then contact them but it is probably unwise to follow a class action at this time. The court judgement was appealed by the defendants and they lost. This means that the FCA have first call over the assets of the defendants. It might be worth waiting to see what the FCA says and whether there are any assets outside the reach of the FCA. The FCA also indicated that it was going to mount a second prosecution over deception which is a criminal charge. Then the defendants might be captured under the Proceeds of Crime legislation. If they are found guilty there might be nothing left for your mother in law to go after.
    It probably isn’t worth employing a solicitor to chase people who will end up with no money, but best to wait and see what the FCA says. Some of the defendants are very wealthy thanks to the investors. They may have properties and other assets that might have been transferred to other parties to avoid confiscation. Then it might be worth the effort going after them.
    On the face of it, if your mother in law only invested in African Land, the people who took out the most money would have been Renwick Haddow, Robert McKendrick and Marcia Hargous. The second tier is likely to have been Howard Meadowcroft, Richard Henstock and David Waygood.

  79. Thanks for your advice Courtwatcher.

    I guess we will sit tight and wait.

  80. Hello, I too am based in Australia and invested in two of the above mentioned schemes; Africa Land Rice projects and the Plantation Asset Management Palm oil project. I am a bit taken aback that there has been no coverage of this by the Australian media, despite Capital Alternatives and Velvet Assets being based in Australia. In particular as apparently several of the key personnel behind these scams are now living in Australia.
    Keen to keep in contact with anyone regarding any news and outcomes.

  81. I spoke to a couple of law firms in Australia about a class and they are not interested because the total amount is not worth their while. I also reported this to ASIC and after several emails and phone conversations they advised that they will not allocate resources to gathering evidence against the directors of CA & VA because they are too busy with the Commonwealth Bank Financial Planning scandal. I wrote to Senator Nick Xenophon to see if he can apply pressure to find resources for ASIC but no reply yet. Any Australians caught up these scams should make formal complaints to ASIC and lobby their politicians to force ASIC to act. A simple audit of the books of CA, VA, Geoff Woodcock and James Gardner will show that there has been an obvious fraud committed but ASIC don’t care. ASIC have let us down and their failure should be on the public record as is the failure of the Abbott government to adequately resource ASIC.

  82. Re. Z (#88) and Life Savings Gone! (#89) – Shoot me your contact ID’s and I will get back to you ASAP. FYI I am Australian based too. Just wondering whether you have contacted PAM on this? If yes, who was your contact there? And what James Gardner had told you about investing in VoIPTel? If you are new to this board please feel free to read through my comments regarding these scams.
    Re. Z (#88) – Can you name some personnel who are living in Australia(?) and who approached you and was your main contact (name of the persona) in Capital Alternatives/ Velvet Assets?
    Re. Life Savings Gone! (#89) – Did you pay any fee to any of the law firms for their advise? I have been chasing ASIC for the last two years and till date nothing has been done. You missed the name of another CA/ VA shot Cameron Ward here, who was the epitome of fraudery and deceit.

  83. Hi YT, I have also asked ASIC to audit the books of CA/VA plus personal books of Woodcock and Gardner. ASIC recently told me that they do not have enough resources to do anything because they are all tied up with the Commonwealth Bank Financial Planning scandal. I wrote to Senator Nick Xenophon complaining about ASIC’s lack of action and he is now on the case. If you have not already done so, make a formal complaint to ASIC and write to Nick Xenophon about your case. Ring me during business hours on 0417 816475 if you wish to discuss.

  84. YT and Life Savings Gone. I too am an Australian and have lost all my Super with these Shonks. I would be keen to help out if I can.

  85. Re. PiBIo (#92) – Would you mind sharing your experience with us please? Who was your broker at CA/ VA if I may ask?
    I would like to invite all Australian who have lost their hard earned money to please share your experiences here. Please name and shame your brokers who had betrayed your trusts and played with your emotions.

  86. YT: I first dealt with Brendon Goldsworthy from Capital Alternatives. Then came along James Gardner from Velvet Assets (who I can no longer contact, was able to contact him up until March this year). I am now in contact with Michael Khahn from Agri Forestry Projects who claims that I can get 5 to 10c for my Capital Alternatives investment and that is due to the slump in the market and recommends I wait. Do I take this massive hit or wait?

  87. Re. PiBlo (#94) – Mate please give me a favor and leave your email ID. We need to exchange our views on PAM – sooner the better but please do not take any action in a haste and definitely not from PAM’s advise. And please be mindful that there are CA/VA guys or even PAM guys who are masking their identities so please be extra vigilant. You can also contact Paul Witt (#92) to share your experience and if you please you can also cross-check my credentials. He is a genuine investor and had lost a fortune.

  88. I am also in Australia and we have lost over $100k across carbon credits, rice, African timber and palm oil. I would be happy to join with any group working to look after our joint interests in these matters.

  89. Re. Rick (#96) – I have full empathy on your situation mate as my situation is not better than yours. If you like to share your story please leave your email for me and I will contact you ASAP with more details. Just for a head start could you please share who was your contact person in CA/ VA?

  90. YT, my contact was Brendon Goldsworthy who told me that he left Capital Alternatives when he and Cameron realised that the products were fake. Velvet Assets made a strong point of advising clients not to even talk to Brendon and Cameron. At Velvet Assets there was Ed Toller but he did not stay too long. I think he left when he found out that it was a scam.

  91. red alert red alert red alert
    In June 2014
    I gave you three names of conmen to watch out for,
    Kevin Prior and Giovanni Oliva (carbon central)
    Ronnie Du Bois(Capital Alternatives),
    Well one of the parisites Giovanni Oliva is now running a company called (G M X PROPERTIES), Keep well away from this conman.

  92. I’ve lost $95,000 thanks to Cameron Ward. I think we have no hope getting any of our money back. If English was my mother language I would call all the TV stations to make a good program out of this scam. Who has the guts to do it?

  93. I am thinking of offering all this info to a TV station with the objective of embarrassing ASIC to the point where they do something. A TV station could make a sensational program out of this.Has anyone tried this already, if so please let us know? We can’t allow these criminals to escape free with all our money.

  94. Go ahead Rickles, pass what you have on to a TV reporter to show how inadequate ASIC has been in this matter. I spoke to a senior lawyer at ASIC after I provided all of my emails and letters to and from CA/VA. His response to me was that all ASIC resources were tied up with the CBA Financial Planning disaster and CA/VA were not a priority. That lawyer left ASIC soon after telling me that. Maybe our last hope is the Australian media.

  95. Yes go for it. I have two previous occasions where I have been scammed by Australian companies, (for lesser amounts than this episode) and ASIC did absolutely nothing except make promises to look into it even though the facts were clear and simple, and in the end sent me a letter stating that they were not going to do anything.

  96. Please go ahead. We, the investors, have been conned.

  97. Great idea Rickles. Please keep us updated on this. I’m Australian and invested in carbon credits through Capital Alternatives. I reported my concerns to ASIC and the FCA upon finding out it was a scam. Unfortunately there has not been any real response or action since…

  98. Such a quick response to the suggestion that we take this to a TV station. I will proceed, it will take one or two weeks to prepare a strong case. It would be helpful to have examples of how we were conned so that the station knows that it is not just a single person complaining. If anyone feels that they can contribute please leave a message on this excellent website.

  99. I foolishly believed the sales pitch for “ethical investments” when contacted by the broker, Goldsworthy in 2012. He must have known that the money would never be invested. Certainly the directors, Gardner and Woodcock, never intended to invest the money in any scheme that generated future income for investors as promised. I lost over $50k on Capital Carbon Credits, Palm Oil and African Land. I reported it to ASIC and they looked into it but then decided to look the other way and pretend that nothing illegal had happened despite the FCA case. Gardner and Woodcock phoenixed CA as VA and then had the hide to try to sell me more investments.

  100. A few days ago I said that I would approach TV stations to get publicity for the case against Capital Alternatives and its directors. Here is my proposal but I would like comments and additional info from other victims.Please read and comment.

    Dear Producer,
    I am writing to see if you are interested in a story about Australian investors who were defrauded for millions of dollars by a rogue company and have been unable to receive any support for their cause from ASIC or other Government authorities.
    The companies concerned were Capital Alternatives and Velvet Assets. They used high pressure salesman who were paid extremely large commissions to sell a number of worthless investment schemes. It is unlikely that investors’ money was actually used to buy the promoted investments, it may have been misappropriated in full by the directors of the two companies involved. Investors were promised high returns but in fact it appears that most of the schemes paid no dividend to any investors, nor did they return any capital.
    The investment schemes included carbon credits through Australian plantations (“you can’t go wrong because it is guaranteed by the government”), rice and timber in Africa, palm oil in West Africa (“Buyout offer in year 5 guaranteed by FSC-regulated offshore fund at an uplift of at least 25%;- Receiving Agent and Trustee owned by an UK FSA-regulated company”)

    Investors who had limited capital and thus needed high returns were easy prey for these scams.
    Here is a quote from one investor who was duped by Capital Alternatives:
    “I am from Australia, a retired school teacher/church minister, age 77, and I too appear to have been duped. I am stupid and gullible as it is not the first time that I have been taken down. However, this is the most serious of all as it was for $115,000. My wife and I lost more than half our life’s saving in the 2008 crash and this was by far our biggest investment. I happened to see about it just at the time when we had a large amount of cash. The salesman was XXXX XXXX and much of what he told us was simply not true, but I believed him. (He has since been dismissed I understand.) My wife and I are both devastated by this loss as there is no way that we will ever be able to make it up. We both worked hard all or lives (particularly her at her teaching – first to school in the morning and last to leave at night) and now for this to happen to us it is almost more than we can bear.”
    [R-M – 15 May 2014: The name of the salesman has been deleted from this comment.]
    And another:
    “Every single product promoted by capital alternatives as “unique products by unique promotors”, it is now seemingly obvious as returns are late, and nothing is paying out that these were all run by friends and assosciates of the top Capital Alternatives UK director. “Patsies” names may have been used on directorships to protect certain people, but it appears nothing was unique.
    No products promoted by Capital Alternatives nor Velvet Assets have EVER paid capital back to our knowledge.
    We have made direct contact with companies claimed to be involved in the wheat investment. They have absolutely no idea who velvet or capital alternatives are. We suspect the wheat project does not exist. The FIRST returns are now almost 6 months late.
    Palm Oil which is apparently a fixed return, is also 6 months late”.(written May 2014)

    Many of the unfortunate victims contacted ASIC but were informed that ASIC was preoccupied with the CBA Financial Planners case and would not help. Capital Alternatives went into voluntary deregistration and the directors appear to have taken the money and run. A company called Velvet Assets arose from the ashes of Capital Alternatives with the same management but eventually disappeared also leaving investors with no effective point of contact for the failed investments.
    To rub salt into the wound, associates of Capital Alternatives telephoned the investors with offers to buy back those investments on condition that the proceeds plus additional new funds from the client were invested in a Russian telecom company Voiptel. This was also an investment of dubious value at best, and it appears that most investors avoided it. Capital Alternatives was related to Capital Alternatives in UK. That company was taken to court by Financial Conduct Authority which won both the case against CA and the subsequent appeal. The case related only to two of the investments: Capital Carbon Credits and African Land (rice farms).As a result of this case investors may receive some compensation some time in the future, but nothing has been done in the case of Palm Oil or African Lumbar,

    A very unfortunate aspect of the case is that the directors of Capital Alternatives and Velvet Assets in Australia appear to escaped with the cash and with no legal action taken against them.

    I have copies of the promotional material for most of the schemes and information from a number of the investors who lost money.

    Please let me know if you are interested in this case.

  101. Hello Rickles, I was reading your e-mail this morning and some of it looked very familiar to me. I then realised that it was MY contribution to this discussion quite a while ago. I have since been contacted by the salesman mentioned, and in a phone conversation he informed me that he did not know about the dishonest practices and that he was not dismissed but he resigned of his own choice after finding out what was going on. So perhaps you should leave out the reference to him – as below.-

    Here is a quote from one investor who was duped by Capital Alternatives:
    “I am from Australia, a retired school teacher/church minister, age 77, and I too appear to have been duped. I am stupid and gullible as it is not the first time that I have been taken down. However, this is the most serious of all as it was for $115,000. My wife and I lost more than half our life’s saving in the 2008 crash and this was by far our biggest investment. I happened to see about it just at the time when we had a large amount of cash. My wife and I are both devastated by this loss as there is no way that we will ever be able to make it up. We both worked hard all or lives (particularly her at her teaching – first to school in the morning and last to leave at night) and now for this to happen to us it is almost more than we can bear.”

  102. Redd-Monitor weekly roundup contains this link to Global Eco Projects Ltd.
    This is the Mark Ayres who fronted the carbon credit project in Sierra Leone on behalf of Robert McKendrick (African Land) and Renwick Haddow (Capital Alternatives).
    The report states that Ayres invested a lot of his own money in Global Eco Projects Ltd which he was able to have paid back, but this isn’t strictly true.
    In the trial of Capital Alternatives/African Land the court was told that more than £250k of investors’ money was paid to Global Eco Projects. So the money that was paid into GEP wasn’t from Ayres at all – it was from investors in the AL rice project and the CCC carbon credit project.
    How did Ayres get away with it again ? He was already a disqualified director and instead of going to prison (which is what should happen when a disqualified director ignores a disqualification and starts a new company) he just gets a slap on the wrist and has his disqualification extended. Maybe there is another agenda that takes priority ?

  103. Progress report on effort to involve the press. I made the correction requested by Len and have submitted the matter to Channel 9 in Australia to see if they are willing to join the fight on our behalf, waiting for their response.

  104. Thanks Richard,
    Looking forward to hearing how it goes. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

  105. I just received the following email from Brendon Goldsworthy:

    From: Brendon Goldsworthy
    Date: 25 August 2016
    Subject: Please remove my name from comments section in article
    To: Chris Lang

    Hi there,

    I am urgently requesting the names of “Brendon Goldsworthy”, “Goldsworthy” as well as “Cameron Ward” to be removed from the comments in the article in the link below. Our names are being mentioned in the comments which brings this thread up certain google searches. We were simply employees, and had no knowledge of this scam. When things got fishy it was us who left and told all employees why we were leaving and they left as well. This is affecting current business in unrelated fields.

    Please advise


    Brendon Goldsworthy

  106. @Len (#23) and @Rickles (#110) – I’ve deleted the XXXX XXXX in Len’s original comment (#17) and replaced it with the salesman’s name: Brendon Goldsworthy.

  107. Hi Brendon,

    Nice to hear from you. All will be forgiven if you refund the commission you received from Capital Alternatives back to your former clients. I don’t believe you when you say you knew nothing about the Ponzi scheme. I was a fool to believe you when you told a pack of lies in 2012. See you in court in the near future.

  108. If indeed his claim is true, why did he not warn us. He certainly made no attempt of that. This website has been the only source of information that I could find. This wasn’t his first foray in advising of poor products. There certainly seemed to be evidence of a pattern. Would only be fair to warn others. Now he gets to do it again. Sighhhh and I go on working to pay for it.

  109. I have received acknowledgement of our case from Channel 9 but they have not indicated whether they will help. If they don’t, I will explore other avenues.
    Meanwhile, let me say that there was no reference to salesmen’s names in my submission. However, if a used car salesman sells defective vehicles, his reputation will suffer.The same must apply to people selling bogus investment schemes.
    I understand that Brendon’s next venture is struggling to pay clients and that may not help his reputation as a trusted advisor.
    Meanwhile we have every right to seek justice after having been robbed by Capital Alternatives and we will do so vigorously.

  110. Brendon Goldsworthy seems to be just another lowlife who helped to ruin the lives of many and then say ‘I didn’t know, I was just following orders’.

    The Nazi butchers from the concentration camps said the same, we didn’t know, we were just following orders yet none of them ever wondered why nobody who was sent to the showers ever came out.

    The courts of course didn’t believe a word of this nonsense so rightly hanged them.

    So like all the other whingers and whiners connected to Capital Alternatives and all the other scam firms, these people now don’t like it when the internet reminds people who they used to work for and what that company specialised in – selling guaranteed to lose investment products so that all the investors money could be paid out in large salaries and even larger bonuses to the insiders.

    As others have said, if Mr Goldsworthy was that worried he would contact everyone of his victims and a) pay back the commission he earned from them, and b) make arrangements from his future salary to pay them more money.

    You reap what you sow Mr Goldsworthy.

  111. Could I suggest that the best way forward for any former Capital Alternative salesmen would be for them to offer to assist us to prepare the case against former CA directors. That would help clear their names.

  112. Rick, that is a great idea, would certainly raise their credibility, if indeed what they claim is true. Would be great to hear back from them on this challenge. I dare say we won’t though.

  113. I have not had a positive reply from Channel 9 so I will try other avenues. I will not reveal my next approach in case someone reads this and tries to have the case suppressed but i will not give up.

  114. I was also taken in Oz and then followed up via UK call room … what is happening with this?

  115. Its a pity that the FCA were’nt quite so “on the ball” when it came to RBS bankrupting dozens of its customers. Then selling off assetts to their friends in the CITY. The present and past officers of this organisation WILL be held accountable, and JUSTICE will be served.

  116. I also got could up in the Australian part of this scheme

  117. The relevant Australian group, ASIC, were completely out of their depth with Capital Alternatives. They said that they were too busy to take any action and let the scoundrels get away with the theft of investors’ funds.That was like a policeman saying he was too busy to investigate a murder.