Carbon Green Capital and Agora Capital, two companies that sold carbon credits as investments, have been ordered into provisional liquidation by the High Court in London.
The Insolvency Service uses provisional liquidation when it is concerned that the assets of the company may be lost before the petition to wind up the is heard by the court. Or because it is not in the public interest that the company continues doing business. The petitions to wind up the two companies will be heard by the court on 22 October 2014.
Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Service, said,
“If you have invested with either company or are approached by firms purporting to have been appointed to deal with your investment, such as Fredric & Formby or Fredericks, The Official Receiver who has today been appointed by the Court as provisional liquidator of Carbon Green Capital LLP and Agora Capital Ltd, will be pleased to receive the details.”
Carbon Green Capital was registered in May 2012. The company directors were Steven Sulley (until December 2012), Mark Allen and Christopher Chapman.
Carbon Green Capital’s clients have their Carbon Credits held in a nominee account with Carbon Neutral Investments Limited (CNI) on their behalf. Carbon Green Capital acts as a broker and does not give advice.
Carbon Neutral Investments Limited is regulated by the Financial Services Authority, license no. 403428. While Carbon Neutral Investments is regulated, and the carbon credits are electronically held in nominee with a regulated firm, the Voluntary Carbon Credit Market and Voluntary Carbon Credits themselves is not a regulated product at present, as they do not fall under the category of an investment product as stipulated by FSMA (The Financial Services and Marketing Act).
In case there was any doubt about the type of operation that Carbon Green Capital was running, here’s a March 2013 job advert from the company:
As our Senior Broker you must; Have at least 2-3 years experience working as a carbon, diamond, wine, property, REM or land broker. Have a professional and experienced sales ability. Be a self motivated, confident, energetic, enthusiastic, focussed and driven individual with a hunger for success. Be mature, reliable, committed and well presented with a clear, crisp and professional telephone manner.
Agora Capital was registered in November 2012. The sole director was Christopher Chapman.
Neither company has filed any accounts with Companies House.
Steven Sulley, ex-director of Carbon Green Capital, is also director of a company called Pure Carbon, another one of the companies that Carbon Neutral Investments provided “clearing and settlement services for”.
Pure Carbon’s registered address is 90 Brixton Hill, London, an address it shares with yet another carbon credit boiler room, this one called ClearView Partnership.
REDD-Monitor wrote about ClearView Partnership in May 2013. Since then, ClearView Partnership’s website has gone. But from the comments that followed the post on REDD-Monitor, it seems that there is little difference between Clear View Partnership and Pure Carbon.
Here are four of the comments that followed the post about Clear View Partnership (click on each comment to see it in context):
In November 2012, Tony Hetherington, a journalist at the Daily Mail, wrote about Carbon Green Capital. He described the company as a “rip-off outfit”. Sulley didn’t answer his questions.
Sulley is also director of a wine investment company called DS Vintners & Co, which promised an annual return of 13%. In an article featuring DS Vintners, The Telegraph quoted Rick Ealing, head of investment solutions at Sanlam UK, as saying that,
“Investments are supposed to earn you money, and yet wine pays no dividends, interest or rent. In fact, it has heavy storage costs. People invest in businesses expecting them to grow over time, yet all wine eventually peaks and decays. You’re at risk of counterfeiting, theft and fire. You will enjoy few, if any, of the protections offered to investors in regulated funds.”
Ealing summed it up: “Bottles of wine are not investments.” Which makes them sound a lot like carbon credits.