By Chris Lang
On 2 July 2014, the High Court in London ordered two more companies that sold carbon credits as investments into liquidation on the grounds of the public interest. The two companies, Pinecom Services Ltd and Pine Commodities Ltd, had taken almost £2 million from the public.
The companies were closed down after an investigation by the Insolvency Service. High Court Registrar Derrett described the companies as “phoenix” companies, rising from the ashes of three companies that had previously been wound up in the High Court: Tullett Brown Limited, Foxstone Carr Limited and Carvier Limited. (REDD-Monitor first wrote about Carvier Limited in June 2012. The company was closed down almost one year later.)
Pine Commodities was registered in April 2012. The director was Lee Welham, until February 2013, when he was replaced by Jason Pugh. Pinecom Services was registered in July 2012. The director was Ayan Essa, until November 2012 when Lawrence Graham took over.
Pinecom Services’ website is still up. On it, the company offers “A fresh approach”. Products include investments in a storage company called Store First (which Tony Hetherington at the Daily Mail described as part of “a fascinating network of companies, all sounding alarm bells for various reasons”) and precious metals.
High Court Registrar Derrett said that the companies were closed down for the following reasons:
- Pine Commodities: “Firstly it has carried on an objectionable business practice, namely the sale of carbon credits to the public for investment. Secondly it has failed to co-operate with the investigation or to deliver up company records. Thirdly it has been abandoned and there is a lack of transparency as to its management; and finally it has now defaulted on its filing obligations with Companies House.”
- Pinecom Services: “Firstly it has carried on an objectionable business practice, namely the sale of carbon credits to the public in the same misleading way; secondly it has been abandoned and there is a lack of transparency as to its management; and finally since the date of the presentation of the petition it is late in filing its accounts.”
Registrar Derrett also explained the links between the two companies and Tullett Brown, Foxstone Carr and Carvier:
- both companies were introduced to Evolution Trade Services Limited, which provided deal execution services, by the Nwikpo brothers who controlled the companies previously wound up;
- key cards to Pine Commodities’ premises were issued to former staff of Tullett Brown Limited and Foxstone Carr Limited;
- the director of Pinecom was a former employee of Foxtone Carr Limited and Carvier Limited;
- 9 of the 54 people who worked for Pinecom had previously worked for at least one of Tullett Brown Limited, Foxtone Carr Limited or Carvier Limited;
- two members of the public who invested in carbon credits sold by Pinecom and Pine Commodities were former clients of Tullett Brown Limited and were introduced to the respondent companies by their former broker at Tullett Brown Limited;
- Pinecom paid £78,000 to Carvier Limited;
- Pinecom received £30,000 by way of “director’s loan” from Catherine Lyall who was a former director of Tullett Brown Limited; and
- one aspect of Pinecom’s website is identical to that of Carvier Limtied.
So, another two scam companies have been closed down. In this case, the companies were little more than new names for companies previously closed down in the High Court. And there seems to be little to prevent the people behind these latest two companies from setting up other scam companies.
Meanwhile, Evolution Trade Services, the company that provided “deal execution services” for Pine Commodities and Pinecom Services, is still active. The Insolvency Service investigation revealed that Evolution Trade Services was Pinecom Services principal supplier and, at Pinecom Services’ request, paid £173,869 to an account in the Seychelles.
Another company mentioned in the Insolvency Services’ press release is SJL Risk, which went into voluntary liquidation in April 2014. SJL Risk’s website bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Evolution Trade Services, and Harvey Bennett has been a director of both companies.
SJL Risk’s website (www.sjlrisk.com) currently redirects to a company called Carbon Traders (http://carbon-traders.com/). The two websites are pretty much the same. Carbon Traders’ website lists the company’s management team as Harvey Bennett and Simon Lear. Both of them were previously directors of SJL Risk.