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More carbon credit boiler rooms: ASJ International and Tower Trade

Here’s a comment from a couple of months ago on REDD-Monitor: “I invested with ASJ International Dec 2012 and now cannot get hold of them. Any news?”

The unfortunate commenter had handed over €15,000 to ASJ International for near-worthless carbon credits (green CERs).

Meanwhile, ASJ International’s website has disappeared. While it existed ASJ International’s website informed us that,

ASJ International is a leading international brokerage based in London and Gibraltar. Our core business is the provision of profitable trading solutions to the private client market place on a global scale.

The website was registered anonymously in September 2012.

A search on Open Corporates reveals eight companies with similar names to ASJ International. One one of them is registered in the UK, but sells clothing and shoes, and not “profitable trading solutions”. Open Corporates does not list any company with the name ASJ International registered in Gibraltar.

It appears that ASJ International, in addition to selling carbon credits, also contacted people who had been previously scammed into buying carbon credits as investments.

One of the people who had bought carbon credits from ASJ International received a letter from Tower Trade Commodities, telling him that Tower Trade Commodities had taken over ASJ International.

Tower Trade Ltd was registered in the UK in September 2012. The website was registered on the same day as ASJ International’s website was registered. Both companies got their websites designed by Popcorn Design – a company whose portfolio seems to include one or two other rather iffy-looking companies.

Tower Trade’s website has disappeared. Tower Trade Ltd has filed a “striking off application” with Companies House. Unless anyone objects, three months after the application was noted by the Registrar of Companies (the notice is dated 11 March 2014), Tower Trade Ltd will be struck from the register and will cease to exist.

Objections can be made in writing to Tim Moss, the Registrar of Companies, Companies House, Cardiff CF14 3UZ (Fax 029 20 380900). Possible reasons for objecting include any of the following:

  1. The company has broken any of the conditions of its application (for example, it has traded, changed its name or become subject to insolvency proceedings) during the three-month period before the application, or afterwards.
  2. The directors have not informed interested parties.
  3. Any of the declarations on the form are false.
  4. Some form of action is being taken, or is pending, to recover any money owed (such as a winding-up petition or action in a small claims court).
  5. Other legal action is being taken against the company.
  6. The directors have wrongfully traded or committed a tax fraud or some other offence.

Companies House has produced a guide, “Strike off, Dissolution & Restoration”, available on its website. The guide includes information about objecting to a strike off.

There’s a link between Tower Trade and another company, an “Alternative Asset information provider”. Stephen Barber was a director of Tower Trade for a little over a month. He was also a director of a company called Wade & Vere for six days in October 2013.

Wade & Vere’s website does nothing to inspire confidence. On the front page of its website, the company explains that it “deals exclusively with institutional and corporate clients”. So, at least the company isn’t ripping off retail investors. But then on a page describing its strategy, the company tells us that,

At Wade and Vere, we stand with you, whether you’re an institutional investor, a financial professional, or a retail individual.

Wade & Vere was registered in the UK in December 2012. Its website was registered anonymously in December 2012.

REDD-Monitor would be interested to hear from you if you have bought carbon credits (or any other investments) from any of these three companies. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, here are some suggestions: “What to do if you’ve been scammed into buying carbon credits as an investment”.

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  1. I have just received a letter from HMCarbon Nominees Ltd saying they have confirmed an audit to establish my holdings of HMCarbon Credits I purchased a couple of years ago befoe they disappeared. They intend to engage with a list of firms ranging from Ernst And Young, to Deloitte to INTErnational. They intend to use one of these 12listed firms to inform them of my listings. They in turn will contact me in the near future.
    HM Carbon Nominees want me to consent to letting them have access to my personal details by a web page :
    Is this yet another Scam? Should I reply. I am so sick to death with the whole Carbon Credit issue as I have invested and lost my investments of about £20k. Please advise.
    Any one knows the whereabouts of James Cooper? Yet another CC company who has absconded with my pension money. Any help will really appreciated.

  2. To Davidhotson

    It might be a scam, yes.

    Did you get the name of the company and the email address right? Is it HM Carbon Nominees, or MH Carbon Nominees?

    If it really is HM Carbon Nominees, there is no such company and it is definitely a scam. Contact Action Fraud!

    If you bought your original credits from MH Carbon then you should contact Action Fraud about that. MH Carbon was a big scam. If you didn’t buy your credits from MH Carbon, then how did MH Carbon Nominees get your email address? That is fishy.

    MH Carbon Nominees, if that is who you really mean, have been talking for months (since November) about organising an audit. It is surprising and suspicious that, if I understand you right, they have now completed the audit but still have to choose one of 12 firms to tell you the results. That looks like nonsense. Why don’t they just tell you the results and give you the contact details of someone independent who can confirm them?

    You should pass on the email that they sent you to Action Fraud.

    Sad to say, your credits, if they exist at all, will be worth FAR less than you paid for them. It may not be worth trying to rescue them via MH Carbon Nominees. If MH Carbon Nominees start asking for more money or threatening you that you will lose your credits, you should definitely smell a rat and contact Action Fraud.

  3. @David Hotson,

    Since all they are asking for is our consent to send our details to one of the firms on the list, I can’t see any ‘scam’ element here.
    If MHC Nominees start asking for money to finance the external audit, then that would be different.

  4. @Davidhotson (#1) – Do you mean MH Carbon Nominees?

    Regardless, of what they call themselves, it’s almost certainly a scam – please contact Action Fraud about this. Here’s a post with some more suggestions about what you can do – please work through the list:

    What to do if you’ve been scammed into buying carbon credits as an investment

    And if you do mean MH Carbon Nominees, here are three posts about MH Carbon – there’s some mention of MH Carbon Nominees (see the discussions in the comments too):

    January 2013: MH Carbon: Another boiler room scam?

    May 2013: MH Carbon goes into voluntary liquidation

    May 2013: MH Carbon in liquidation: What to do if you bought carbon credits from MH Carbon

  5. @Chris Lang,
    Yes. It is a printed letter (dated 4th April), not an email. The style looks similar to their previous letter from November last year.

    Some excerpts:

    Further to our recent letter we are pleased to confirm we have now completed our internal audit.

    [apologies for the delay snipped]

    Our findings have now been verified with our suppliers and all our figures are now ready for an external audit.

    [waffle about CDC registry snipped]

    We are now in a position to engage with one of the firms listed below who APX and Markit require us to use to consider our application. We will be contacting the below firms to ask for quotes for the external audit to be completed.

    [list of 12 firms follows]

    … finally there is a request for consent to send personal details to the chosen firm, and they are to contact me directly “to verify your holdings”.
    The contact email address is the same one I have used in previous correspondence with MHC Nominees.

    Hope this helps,

  6. I’ve had the same letter from MH Carbon Nominees. It’s merely a request for permission to release contact details to well-known professional auditors to comply with APX/Markit requirements. I don’t see how this helps the scammed investors, but at the same time I don’t see how giving permission can make matters worse. There is no request for money here, and if one did arrive a “get stuffed” reply could easily follow. Does anyone have a more informed opinion on this?