in Brazil, UK

Global Forestry Investments, teak plantations in Brazil and the unravelling of an unregulated investment scheme

Global Forestry Investments claims to be an ethical investment company. But hundreds of investors are now asking where their money went.

Andrew Skeene and Omari Bowers registered the company, GFI Consultants Ltd., on 13 April 2010. They worked quickly. Just over two weeks later, they put out an invitation to an “Open Evening for a night of Champagne and Canapés”. Apparently, GFI already had clients:

You will be given a better insight into our phenomenal Teak projects in Brazil that are yielding our existing clients 10-20% per annum.

UPDATE – 28 February 2015: The Serious Fraud Office has announced that it is conducting a criminal investigation into Global Forestry Investments and Global Forex Investments. More information here.

The SFO is asking anyone who has handed money over to either Global Forestry Investments or Global Forex Investments to complete a questionnaire on the SFO website (click on the image to go to the questionnaire):

GFI bought a teak plantation in Pará province in Brazil, called the Belem Sky Plantation. A glossy brochure explains the deal:

Investors simply lease a plot on the timber plantation. The value of the investment and the return it will derive is based on the Teak trees growing on it. Specialist timber management companies lease the plots from the investors and manage the land.

The minimum investment is £5,000 and there is no maximum (which, when you think about it is interesting in itself, given that the area of the plantation is not infinite).

The land “will be held in beneficial ownership for the investor” by a company called Title Trustees International, a subsidiary of Hutchinson & Co. Trust Company Limited. Another of Hutchinson’s subsidiaries is Citadel Trustees. That’s the company that holds carbon credits that Worldwide Commodity Partners and several other companies scammed people into buying.

In the small print at the end of its brochure, GFI points out that the company and the investment is completely unregulated:

GFI Consultants Ltd is not regulated by the FSA and is not authorised to offer advice to the general public concerning any regulated or unregulated investment. This is not an authorised investment for the purpose of the UK FSMA (2000) and as such buyers have no access to statutory or regulatory protections including the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

As journalist Tony Hetherington pointed out in 2011, “The investment is unlicensed and unregulated. And that means it is also unsafe.”

Here are Bowers and Skeene explaining the investment scheme on Sky News:

Skeene manages to get the name of the company wrong. Bowers gets the area of Pará wrong. Then he says that, “The actually part that we are interested in is probably roughly about the size of the UK.” If true, that would be impressive. According to the International Tropical Timber Organisation, the total area of teak plantations in the world is about 6 million hectares. The area of the UK is nearly 23 million hectares.

But more interesting is the man in a baseball cap who is translating for GFI: Michael Greene of the Brazil Property Group. Michael Greene featured in a 2011 Dutch TV consumer programme about carbon credits, when he was selling plots of land in the Brazilian Amazon (at a price of one cent per square metre) for reforestation or for carbon trading projects. (Here’s a transcript of the programme: part 1 and part 2. If you’ve not seen it, it’s well worth a watch.)

The relationship between GFI and Michael Greene soured over the next few years. In October 2013, Greene commented on a website set up by people who had invested in GFI:

“I simply do not agree with Skeene and Bowers. They owe my company money related to invoices for when we sold them the farm. All’s I hear is next week.”

A company called Emerald Knight sold the plots of the Belem Sky Plantation to retail investors. You can get an impression of the type of company Emerald Knight is from the “Careers” page on its website:

We have fantastic opportunities for telesales professionals who, in combination with our full and comprehensive training, have the drive and ambition to apply their knowledge and skills in growing their own investor portfolio through the promotion and selling of socially-responsible and sustainable investment opportunities over the telephone to a wide range of investors.

Surprise, surprise, carbon credits are among the other “Socially Responsible & Sustainable Investments” described on Emerald Knight’s website. And on its twitter account, Emerald Knight makes some pretty wild claims about the returns on carbon credits:

There’s a great deal more of this sort of thing (if you can face it) on Emerald Knight’s Facebook page.

Emerald Knight was the company that sold Industry RE’s carbon credits to retail investors. In June 2011, Industry RE had forward purchased the carbon credits from Celestial Green Ventures, who claimed to have the carbon rights to 20 million hectares of Amazon rainforest. In September 2013, Industry RE went into liquidation.

There are lots of frustrated investors out there. Here’s a typical comment:

I invested 5K in GFI in 2011. I was sold this by Emerald Knight and told it was an ethical investment, offering 8% return.

I received one years payment.

Since 2012 and 2013 no payments have been received.

In September 2013, GFI sent a newsletter to investors stating that,

The Belem Sky Plantation investment has been extremely successful and as a direct result of this success as of earlier this year Global Forestry Investments have sold out of all the available retail plots and have now ceased sales.

GFI explained the delays in payments:

The delays in paying the annual income were a cumulate of various factors. Firstly the management companies experienced an unusually long rainy season followed by logistical and banking issues caused by a regulation in Brazil.

And GFI reassured investors that payments were “imminent”. In January 2014, in another newsletter, GFI explained that the “administrational complications” that had “played a part in causing the delays” were now “rectified”.

Meanwhile, in April 2013, HM Revenue and Customs issued a petition to wind up GFI Consultants. The company is still live. But hundreds of investors are still waiting to be paid.

UPDATE – 4 June 2014: A photograph of Bowers and Skeene and the company brochure have been removed from this post at the request of a representative of Bowers and Skeene.

UPDATE – 28 February 2015: The photograph is back. It’s also still available on the Sunday Times website. And the company brochure is back – in the public interest.

Leave a Reply


  1. I too am one of those ‘investors’ who got suckered in by EK and purchased both GFI plots and IRE carbon credits. The whole thing has been a nightmare and continues as one becomes involved with the insolvency system in this country. All these companies & their directors – Bowers, Skeane & Ian Hamilton are crooks who pray on vulnerable people just looking for a way of boosting their pension or hard earned savings. We will be lucky if we see any of our money back in 10 years time.

  2. I think that all these people need too be dealt with E.K Barclays that have done every transfer .Amazing that I need to be dishonest and then I am free to mug people.I really think that all these internet companies need to be dealt with…..Also mercury metals and bamboo,Dont invest in green products until you have spoken to us

  3. The whole GFI Pension Scam is set up to defraud people out of there hard earn money. From the IFA’S that brought it into our life’s, sorry that should of said introducer’s. As mine wants to be known how.No insurance or morals. 4 lot’s of people have taken money out of my Pension, the only one that wont see any of it is me.

    The legal firms that are chasing them, want you to put up £1,000’S up front to chase them. So the chain gets bigger.

    The worst thing I think is the IFA’s are the ones that brought it into our homes,cannot or do not want to see it’s a scam.

    When I asked my IFA about the contract, all he can say is that he was naive ????????. But he still took 5% from the pot. when the going rate is 1.8%.

    Hay ho that what friend’s do for you.

  4. We at Brazil Property Group are real estate consultants in Brazil. We sell soybean farms, tree plantations, cattle ranches, and other rural real estate properties in Brazil. During our nine years in business, we have helped numerous clients; foreigners and Brazilians to purchase farms and properties in Brazil. We pride ourselves on business ethics and follow through. We have helped our clients to save money and achieve their goals, by finding the best available rural properties and using our expert Brazilian negotiators to gain the best value price. One of our clients was Global Forestry Investment, and they did purchase a few teak plantations from our Brazilian land sellers. GFI has also failed to pay our invoices related to one sale in 2012, unfortunately in business many people avoid for as long as possible to pay their invoices.

    It´s correct that in 2011 a Dutch TV station with the symbol KVW did ask us if we could role-play the purchase of land in rural Brazil in order to show the low price per square meter. In the initial planning for this show, we stated that Brazilians never list large rural properties by the square meter, the seller’s typically have an asking price for the entire property, or it is listed based the price per hectare or per alqueire (One alquere is a local standard unit of measurement in Brazil that is equal to 4.84 hectares in the North of Brazil and 2.42 hectares in the Sao Paulo State (alqueire paulista)). KVW wanted to press forward with the role play at the “per meter” size of sale, despite my advisement, as they stated it would help demonstrate to their viewers the inexpensive price of land. During Brazil Property Group’s nine years in this market, we have helped many Brazilians and Foreigners successfully purchase land in Brazil. In this period, we have never sold rural land in plots by the square meter, we have no clients that have ever bought land by the meter, and in general it is extremely uncommon measurement to offer for large properties. The only time it was advertised by Brazil Property Group to be sold by the meter was specifically at the request of producers of the Dutch TV station, for role-play done for the KVW program. It´s important to mention that the interview was scripted by KVW, and many retakes were made so that the video had all the elements, edge, sensationalism and information in accordance with the request of KVW.

    Based on “Informa Economics – FNP”, the leading independent Research Company for Real Estate Land Price comparable in Brazil. In 2011, FNP publication listed the lowest price of land at US$ 51.00 dollars per hectare. The example piece of land for the Dutch TV station KVW was 43 hectares. There are 10,000 square meters in one hectare. So based on FNP, the price for the land was actually less than the price KVW was trying to portray for the role-play. KVW did not actually purchase any land, as they had no intention for it, their goal was just the filming for their TV Program. KVW attempted to show that the price of land was too low to be realistic, though FNP shows the accurate comparable.

    During the KVW role play, the focus and previous agreed subject of the interview changed from “the purchase of rural land in Brazil” to “preservation of Amazon Forest”. KVW tried their best to portray our company in a specific way. They tried to discredit the preservation projects we have since completed. We are proud at Brazil Property Group to state that we have placed over 600,000 acres of private property into conservation easements. This is a huge achievement that is good for Brazil, good for Europe, and good for the world.

    I invite, KVW to come back down to Brazil and we can show the reality of our Company´s attitudes, and do an interview that is not scripted and to show that their first report was not accurate. We will be happy to accompany KVW in a new visit to Brazil, to show that the rural real estate market in Brazil is a very robust and active market as well as to tour some of the private forest properties that were placed into conservation easement.

    – Michael Greene

  5. I have been involved with Andrew Skeene and Omari Bowers since March 2009 – First with property fund investment in Dubai, then Forex.

    They have been promising to pay my monies since September 2010 and despite letters from their solicitors still have not paid a settlement figure agreed.

    They open and close companies, move offices, change phones so often it is very likely they will skip the country.

    Along with James Lau, who I introduced to them and who subsequently went behind my back first opportunity he got and they work together as that is the type of people they are!!

  6. So, Mr Greene, why are you not paying investors?

  7. Dear John and Chris Lang,

    To clarify, Mr. Greene was simply the real estate agent that sold us three teak plantation properties out of eleven teak plantations that were purchased in Brazil. He was very professional in his sales approach and was a very transparent real estate agent. We are thankful that we had him, because some of the other real estate agents in Brazil, that we bought our other farms from were very problematic and caused many issues for us.
    We don’t feel that this REDD-Monitor website does Michael Greene justice, as he is an asset on the ground in rural Brazil that foreigners look to for help and assistance in the purchase of land. He knows the system very well, and this makes him one of the best in Brazil. This website defames him unfairly as he is one of the only people who runs a 1st class operation for rural real estate. This website scares people away from Michael Greene’s services and pushes those same land buyers into the hands of unscrupulous local real estate agents and attorneys.
    Purchasing the teak plantations with Michael Greene as the real estate agent allowed us to know him on the personal level. We learned his story, how he as an American he left a field in engineering to become a real estate agent in Brazil. What we learned, was that in 2005 he bought a retirement property along the beach in Brazil. The local real estate agent and his attorney pushed up the price and his attorney registered his retirement property in her name. He lost everything he had. With this, he realized that the market had a niche for an honest, professional real estate company with a technical background to help navigate the Brazilian bureaucracy. He learned everything about Brazil, from the legal system, and the rural real estate market. He used his knowledge to get his retirement property back. He now helps mostly foreigners buy land and set up projects and is the best source and contact on the ground.

    To your question on why he did not pay you returns? The answer is he has nothing to do with the internal operations or management of the plantations.
    Your question would be no different than you buying a house and stating? I bought a house, is the estate agent going to pay my taxes and pay my utility bills; the answer is of course not.

    Andrew Skeene

  8. Maybe the estate agent is as honest and guilt free as you say, if so, then why does he not defend himself, surely he does not need you to defend him.
    And, “Andrew,”(if this indeed a comment from you) while we are at it, where is our money that has been promised for over two years? Oh yeah, and why are your lawyers so aggressive at shutting down any negativity on the internet? Why are you being investigated by the Serious Fraud Squad? Why are you attempting bankruptcy in the UK?
    Planning to move to Dubai and start again with a whole new Ponzi scheme by any chance?
    Here’s a thought, why not pay back the £11m+ that you owe current investors and stop pretending to be ethical.

  9. Please would Bowers and Skeene not try to play the aggrieved party. We are a group of 268 “investors” in the Bowers and Skeene GFI teak forestry scam. We have been deliberately and brazenly defrauded. We were promised a return of our capital outlay after three years – ha ha – the joke is on us and Bowers and Skeene have laughed as they have salted away overseas our life savings.
    They’re just loving it.

  10. I too have been a victim of this elaborate fraud perpetrated by these liars. For a while, when I had enlisted the services of a journalist from the BBC London News interested in investigating this, it looked as if I may get my returns, however my contact there was promoted and is now in a different department so I had to let it go. Until then I received numerous erroneous emails proposing payments which would arrive on certain dates…which of course they did not.. They both have degrees in lying and do so with impunity, devoid of social conscience and ethics. They are totally amoral and use their intellect to relieve unsuspecting investors…often retirees, of their hard earned money.They are the lowest of the low and I know in time they will get what they deserve, meanwhile my husband has ill health and I am unable to pursue this any more.

  11. I too am owed money from the Bowers and Skeene scam, otherwise known as GFI. I am a pensioner with no means of replacing the money they have cheated me out of.

  12. I too am a victim of this scam and owed money from GFI. I can’t afford to pay £1000’s in legal fees to pursue this and would be grateful for input from any other investors on any other options/best way forward for us. I tried to sell my investment and was willing to cut my losses regarding the outstanding returns but that didn’t materialise either. I seriously fear my investment and pension is lost to these crooks.

  13. Dear Sir,

    I will defend myself. The fact is, you ask why does an unrelated real estate consultant get pulled into a news story for the fact he sold some farms to GFI years ago?

    I have nothing to do with GFI besides I have sold them some properties. This website REDD-Monitor is nothing less than a “black list website” it is Chris Lang’s attempt to black list people he deems as a threat to mother nature. Oddly since I have placed 700,000 into conservation easement, he still wants to state my efforts to save the planet are worth harming.

    Chris Lang is no less than trying to be the Judge, Jury and Executioner to peoples reputations.

  14. As we predicted months ago, there is now a bankruptcy hearing scheduled for July 29th at the court in Croydon for Andrew Skeene and Omari Bowers. David Hines on 01302 572701 are the insolvency practitioners appointed from Absolute Recovery Ltd in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

  15. it looks as though my partner and I have been scammed, 2 1/2 yrs ago we put our withdrawal forms in. We were told that our introducer was regulated, turns out he came out of regulation. I did not even know that Bowers and Skeene had control of my money I thought it was my introducer James Lau, he never mentioned Bowers and Skeene to me. Basically, I put what would be my pension money into this scheme and so did my partner, we are now very worried and in fact we now have relationship problems due to Bowers and Skeene not honouring their agreement with us. They seem very convincing that they are genuine guys who intend to pay us our money, we have realised they HAVE NO INTENTION OF PAYING US OUR RETIREMENT MONEY! we are very worried and unhappy, thanks to those 2 liars our future looks dismal.

  16. Hi

    I have also been scammed by these lot. While Andrew Skeene and Omari Bowers are the guilty ones, just how guilty is James Lau in all this? When I joined, James Lau told me he has full view of the bank accounts and has some control. So what has happened? One of James Lau Companies, and he has a number of them, in which payments were being made back to investors, BB Blue Sky, has recently had 7 million pounds of assets. Are these our funds? I wonder.

  17. A friend pointed this out to me. I worked for Andrew and Omari in November 2013 as an administrator for ‘Lannister Consultants’… I can also tell you they employ staff under false pretences, string them along for contracts until they declare you are meant to be self-employed (no mention of this for WEEKS). When I left in January before they closed their doors I was owed over £1000 in wages. My new employers (a reputable wealth management & FSA regulated company) had to threaten legal action for me to get my monies owed. Absolute cowboys and I hope you all get your money back. I had to wait outside the offices for weeks to get mine!

  18. I am another £5k investor apparently duped into this scheme. I did received a 6 month pro-rata payment in year one of around £250 and that is it. Very similar story to the other investors.

  19. This same scheme is now being done by a company called Green investment solutions (ran by the former directors of Oxigen Investments) exactly the same concept and I would not be surprised if it is also in connection with bowers and Skeene. Be very careful as these guys all know each other and run the same schemes. GIS.. GFI.. all the same….

  20. Thanks for the information Joao.Oxigen Investments was dissolved this year in February according to company records.Interesting that they all seem to be winding up shop around the same time.You are right, here Guy Conroy ex of Oxigen Investments with his new investment that looks exactly like the old one.

  21. Article about GFI in the Sunday Times:

    Small investors lose millions in ‘ethical’ forest

    FAMILIES and pensioners who were encouraged to invest in “ethical” tree plantations in the Amazon rainforest have lost millions of pounds in a scheme being examined by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

    Two entrepreneurs, Omari Bowers, 37, and Andrew Skeene, 36, claimed that investors could expect returns of about 10% a year from growing teak in the rainforests. They said teak had proved a better investment than gold, property and shares.

    The business partners, both from London, impressed their clients with their commitment to regenerating deforested land in Brazil but investors are now pursuing millions of pounds that have been lost in the Global Forestry Investment scheme.

    Skeene and Bowers declined last week to provide detailed information about the scheme to The Sunday Times. But investors have investigated the men’s backgrounds and published warnings on the internet about their alleged activities.

    They are now trying to trace the men’s assets…

  22. I was conned by these guys too. My IFA, Simon goody, introduced me and said that although they weren’t FSA regulated, he had tested taking money out with no problems and was invested himself. When I couldn’t ‘t get my money out, he tried to put me off going to the police and wait longer.

    I later found out he wasn’t invested when I saw the list of creditors. So he acted dishonestly too.

    Raj Shastri was also involved and said he invested but hadn’t. I guess these guys just took a cut and screwed people.

  23. Hello Tim
    Could you please tell me how I can access the list of creditors? I’d like to make sure my name is on this list. I have reported my investment to the SFO but I don’t know who I’d need to contact to advise that I am a creditor as I’ve only recently become aware of insolvency and bankruptcy hearings.
    Thank you
    Janice Baird

  24. I feel very sorry for all the people here who have appear to have been scammed from the start by these people through each of their nefarious investment schemes.

    As someone who legitimately manages forestry and other ethical investment projects it amazes me that people seem so keen to throw money at forestry projects in Countries so far away that they will never be able to justify the costs of physically monitoring them and into very of often hardwood trees. These things take decades to grow and produce a return via lumber. Yet people are being told “and believing” they will get returns in 4, 5 6 years.

    I have looked at most hardwood investments globally from a managed investment perspective. Especially, fast growing types like Melina and Eucalyptus. They didn’t add up for us as plantation specialists, so they would never be something we would develop or acquire for ourselves or clients. Like all softwood investments (Think 30 years for minimum returns here) You would need patience beyond your life to get the capital growth stated unless buying mature forest within a decade of due felling. But since the seller in this case has had the patience to plant and wait, he will gain the bulk of lifetime returns, through the price you as purchaser will pay. Anything over 9% IRR for you will be excellent, but you will have management and harvesting costs and inevitably withholding taxes will be applied in most of these countries and that can be up to 16% in South America and Asia, where most of these dubious investments are declared to be based.

    Forestry can be lucrative, but usually it is bought in large scalable quantities (50 hectare +) by wealthy family offices and HNW individuals seeking to deliver generational value and asset growth. Also, be aware of the claim that wood is a diversification. Up to a point it can be but, most is sold for construction and this is always the sector of the economy that gets hammered first in any recession – hardly non-correlated. For those of you driven by the green investing bug, much timber and certainly the fast growing stuff has little carbon sink value and will likely end up in one of the most environmentally suspect industries wood pulp, that continues to fail to clean up it’s by-product/effluent practices.

    HMRC provides that income, capital gains, corporate and inheritance tax are free on commercial forestry in European located forestry. What’s more you can easily have it checked out or check out yourself via a Ryanair £30 flight. If you want to invest in forestry look for European based projects. If they have an additional crop, say something that grows on the trees or a forest project with touristic incomes. But accept that these things are about investing for the long term. Think get rich slow..not rich. The only people getting rich quick in these schemes are usually the people offering them.

  25. Anyone who is considering to invest through a company called “Investment Alternatives Ltd” (Company no. SC370896) should think twice. They have been selling a teak investment that’s virtually identical to GFI’s Belem Sky Plantation (in every terms you can imagine), and both director/owner of this company (Alex Webster, John Fraser) both worked for GFI before starting this company.

  26. Hi Chris

    Yes the UK company was dissolved as we found it impossible to gain financial regulation through AIFMD two years ago, as the void of the FSA/FCA change was happening. In effect, we would have needed to risk spending as much as £90k+ without any guarantee of receiving regulation for our Black Diamond Fund. Consequently, we dissolved the UK company and created a Malta Fund for HNW European based investors.

    I did not “link” a company from my comment, I simply used my email address – which you state will “not be published”, but in effect that is what you have done.

  27. Just to put a human prospective on all this my investment of £5,000 with GFI seems to have also gone bad, I’m a pensioner with a heart condition and recently diagnosed with a serious aortic aneurism ,I took the investment out with some money my late father left me to give my son some pocket money as an adult student whilst taking his biology degree and bioinformatics masters degree at university fortunately he passed both! now all ask for is that my wife as at least has enough money to bury me with! but I doubt even these two scammers would be decent enough to respect that. I’m a great believer in karma and sincerely hope B & S see sense and pay investors their just dues !

  28. Being told now that our money never reached Brazil and was instead syphoned away by GFI into overseas accounts. Yet if I went into ASDA and walked out with a loaf of bread without paying my feet wouldn’t touch the ground! Just one thought, Title Trustees International are still holding the leases for investors(on ground not managed since 2011 apparently)is there nothing can be done with those?

  29. Unfortunately I too was encouraged to invest in the teak project by my financial advisor, who has since died. I thought that it was odd when I started to get emails asking for my bank details, obviously I did not give them. I feel very disappointed and annoyed that I invested but it was based on specialist advice.

  30. Hello Tim
    Could you please tell me how I can access the list of creditors too?

  31. I’m so saddened about this whole situation. I have been saving for years to send my son to university this investment was his opportunity. What happens now?

  32. You stole from me. My son can now not attend university. The money that I invested with you was intended to., Pay for my sons first year at university.

    Shame on you …, I worked 12 hour shifts ,five days a week, to enable the truth.

    Shame on you,,



  33. I was introduced to gfi by an ifa. Got all the letters about payment schedule & excuses about poor weather in brazil & title trustees intl on the case. nothing happening for ages i feel sick to the stomach & dont know what to do or how to get my money back

  34. Should say your IFA sold you down the river same as mine. My ex IFA is not one bit bothered, what they sold was with intent to defraud as it was only a boiler room scam set up to rob people of they pensions . Of a matter of course they will still be taking management fee for they pleasure .

  35. Hi. I invested the 5K too but was not told that the company wasn’t regulated by my IFA or I would have stayed clear. I today have had a letter stating I can pay a certain solicitor £1500 over 6 months to assist me with all the other people he has claiming. I am not sure it’s worth throwing more good money away as there is only a 75% chance of getting money back. I would be happy with just my 5K and nothing else. Where is the list of creditors and how can you go about claiming without a solicitor?

  36. well….let me get this right.

    You sent money on a phone call/seminar/meeting.
    No proof to back up claims
    Not FSA secured.
    No due dilligence

    Then you sit here and moan like f*** you have been scammed. When to anyone with an ounce of common sense it was obvious you would be. If you can be ripped off you probably will be. bear that in mind in the future. No matter what the hype,patter, B*S* is you want 100% safety on funds or walk away. But that would be too much common sense for many to apply.
    I don’t like what they are doing at all. But they are exploiting peoples stupidity and laziness. “If the shoe fits…..”

    So, take responsibility and pay your stupid tax.

    Wonders never cease.

  37. The huge problem is this one closes down and there are 12+ running. I see them all over the place. Anything selling gem stones, carbon credits, fine wines, land in North Pole 99% a scam. Especially when they advertise for “salesman” on the net.

    But people don’t apply common sense. There’s nothing to do really. It’s the way it is.

  38. JIM
    8 January 2015 at 1:58 pm
    well….let me get this right…
    Jim, your comments are not helpful. Not at all. What are you even doing in this forum?
    Bravo, you have managed to avoid being scammed. It is clear from the number of posts on here, and from the lengthy list of creditors that many, many others have been less fortunate than you. Myself included. I commend you on your common sense and your good fortune in not having been in a position where you have needed to consider such a risky investment. If only you had a likeable personality to match, you wouldn’t then be wasting your life decrying other people’s misfortunes.

    R-M: This comment has been edited – see comments policy.

  39. Hi I invested an awful lot of money through my sipps as advised by a local financial advisor. Within one month of investing I heard of the fraudulent activities. I did not go into this lightly & was reassured that it was a safe investment. I was also advised that this was not “high risk” & the return would be between 8 & 10% per annum. Are we NOW “sitting ducks”????
    Regards Tom

  40. Tom,
    Sorry to say your IFA has robbed you of your money. He took his percentage and will say he was a introducer not a IFA. He will just say it ‘s one of them things. But it is fraud with intent.
    My former IFA is swanning round our village like not one will chase him in the courts. How wrong he is. It’s about time the SFO did something.
    I will be taking my mine to court in the coming months. A out and out conman.

    As usual IFA is always like a family friend when they are robbing you. No sign of them when you have signed the contract. Mine said he had not fully read the contract when I got copy of it. When asked about his insurance he had none.

    Still going around with a smile on his face, saying his client’s have lost the plot.

    Hope you do chase your IFA, they were selling a product that was set up to fail from the start.

  41. Regrettably i invested £13,000 of my personal pension into this scam, encouraged by an introducor who i thought i could trust, my brothers father in law. This was in February 2012.
    He worked for a company called Platinum Wealth Creation, it was then submitted into a Berkeley Burke SIPP by a company called Marcus James.
    I have filed a form with the SFO. Can anyone advise of any Legal firms who are doing this on a ‘no win no fee’ basis or any investor run help website forums.
    It would be much appreciated

  42. Hi Rebecca,

    Did you manage to find a company to take your case up? If not I know a company that are successfully winning compensation in relation to those lost pensions/investments.
    Please let me know if this would be of interest…

  43. Hi Chris I have investment with global forestry what I lost out on from Berkeley berke has anyone got their money back

  44. Hi Chris,

    I also have an investment with Global Forestry with Berkley Burke. Do you have the name and contact number of the company which you mentioned are successfully winning back compensation for people like myself.

  45. Hi James/David,
    Yes people have managed to receive compensation in relation to these and similar investments, although depends on the individual circumstances involved (such as if there was a regulated advisor involved).
    It may be easier to contact me on with your phone number and I can give you a call about it, and also reassure you in line with Chris Laing’s recommendation in the previous comment.



  46. @Chris Atherton – I did not recommend you. Far from it. I have no idea who you are. All I know is that you are some bloke on the internet with a gmail account.

    Which people have managed to receive compensation? What process did they go through? Was there a legal case? Did they employ a law firm? If so what was the name of the law firm? Were the police involved? Has any of this been documented anywhere in the public domain? Are there news reports or court records of anyone getting compensation?

  47. Hi Chris.

    Please accept my apologies if my comment has been poorly written.
    However I certainly did not mean to imply that you had recommended me. I was meaning that you had recommended that the previous person who had commented sought reassurances when/if they made contact with me. I was simply trying to reiterate your comment.

    Please accept my apologies.


  48. @Chris Atherton – I’ve pixellated your email address. Why don’t you just give the name and website of the company you work for?

    For anyone else who may be reading this, Chris Atherton just sent me a message via the “Contact” page on REDD-Monitor, in which he asked for my email address, so that he could, “send over documents showing our registration numbers such as our MOJ licence and claims authority number, and any other information you may wish to consider.”

    Why he can’t do that in a comment, and answer my questions while he’s at it, is something of a mystery to me.

    In any case, my email address is on the “Contact” page:

  49. I trusted James Lau and placed money into GFI. He set up meetings around the country with a gentleman called David Graham who said he worked for a commercial debt recovery firm and they had won a court case against Bowers and Omari in Dubai. We had to sign documents to prove that the money was ours and then never heard anything more. Does anyone know was this just part of the scam

  50. Possibly,

    As I have learned from another debt recovery source that Jsmes had won about £7m in Dubai probably using the names collected and kept the lot!!

  51. Hi everyone,I badly need your advice. I am thinking of investing 5k into a project and reading this I’m starting to wonder if this is a scam too. Has anyone heard of “GWD Forestry” – 2015 Canada Christmas Trees Preferential Units?
    This is in my email from the company:
      “Once this project goes live, you will be able to purchase a 0.1 acre unit for €5,960 or a 0.2 acre unit for €11,920.”
    Is serious money for a romanian,I can’t easily afford to invest but a most of you,I thought will be great for the next 30 years to keep getting profit.
    What do you think?

  52. Irina, și eu am aceeași dilemă, stând de vorbă cu un reprezentat al companiei. Ai mai aflat ceva între timp?

  53. Irina GWD Forestry is alive and well and trading in Mallorca would not trust them as it sounds exactly the same as GFI be very careful

  54. Irina, GWD is a fraud company. Stay away from them. I am an investor with them and have most likely been scammed. Whenever I contact them regarding my profit, they just vanish or give vague answers or just block you from all possible communications. SCAM!!!

  55. I visited GWD head office in Mallorca, as I am an invester with them. not sure if they are a scam yet! I guess I will find out when my return is due.

  56. @HK987 – Thanks for this. I have a few questions if you don’t mind. Which GWD project did you invest in? How much did you invest? When did you invest? When is your return due? How will you know whether it’s a scam or not if you receive one payment? (Payments could still dry up at some point in the future, and you would receive a payment even if GWD were a Ponzi scheme.)

    And why did you travel to Mallorca to visit the GWD head office? Who did you meet in the GWD office? What did you talk about? Was the meeting before or after you invested?

  57. @Chris: I invested in a few projects namely the Canadian Christmas trees & Barzilian ones that they run. I was actually a bit stupid to do this with minimal research and knowing not a great deal about GWD as a company. So thats why I decided to go to their office in Palma and have a face to face discussion and see if their office really exists.
    I can say for sure now that they do have an office as adverised and several people work there & the person I spoke with was very open and helpful & answered all my questions. BUT- still does not mean they are legit and i guess i will find out when my first return is due in a couple of years from now.

  58. Action Fraud put out a warning last week about investments in forestry:

    Alert: Cold calls regarding unregulated forestry investments

    Once the victim has invested in forestry, teak, bamboo, forestry shares, tree plantations or Christmas trees, promotional material will be received by the victim via post or email, promoting the benefits of the scheme. The forestry firm will continue to cold call, encouraging the victim to:

    – Setup up regular investment payments in order to receive a greater return.
    – Request an upfront fee (approximately 10% of the investment) for a security bond.
    – Request an advance fee for insurance to cover a temporary payment abroad to locations such as Hong Kong and Gibraltar.

    Victims have found that they do not have easy access to their forestry investment, or have experienced a reduced return rate.

  59. Well funny thing is I made another investment in a Bamboo company called Citadel something that have farms in central America, sounds very dodgy and I was very stupid, but I got all my money back with profit, so not all are scams! Very hard to know who are though since they go to considerable lengths to appear legit.

  60. Yes exactly EcoPlanet, they turned out to be OK and paid out (not the full amount they promised) but made a healthly profit. If GWD however are a scam then its extremely illaborate with pictures of plantations, anual reports, actual premises open to clients to visit…etc.

  61. HK987

    Ever watched The Sting?

    That was an elaborate bookies office, full of action and punters. That’s what Robert Shaw thought. Yes it was a movie but that’s often how it is in real life. If you want to take people for large sums of money you’ve got to make them feel they’re dealing with a good company.

    Many firms spend a lot of money trying to make everything look kosher and real. It’s an investment and one that usually pays off huge.

    If you keep investing in things you don’t understand and in your words ‘being very stupid’ you’re not going to have a lot of money over the coming years as in the business you’re called a ‘super mark’. The best sort of client these firms can have.

    We are only trying to help you.

  62. Don’t worry, Ive learnt my lesson very well indeed! Never again.

  63. Hi guys, I am one of the investors and I would say, although I haven’t had such a great experience but I did receive my 1st year returns from my investment with GWD forestry in Green Coconut project. It was a bit late but I got it. There’s a lot for them to improve upon as far as customer management is concerned but I am to certain extent convinced that they’re not frauds.


  64. cold called last week by GREENIS teak plantation minibond salesman, strung him along for
    1 hour+ then said i’m out, prospectus totally free of checkable facts, later calls from marketing guys with public school accents annoyed that I am investigating this company.
    Any other info on GREENIS please

  65. Could anyone inform me of what is the situation. Have you stolen my investments or will I get the money back?

  66. @Martin Waddell – Thanks for this, but clicking on your name in the first comment you left brings up the website, just as clicking on my name in any of my comments brings up I did not “publish” your email address.

    Sorry about the delayed response…