By Chris Lang
On 12 July 2016, an application was commenced in Australia for the winding up of Conservation Central Network. A court hearing took place in the Federal Court in New South Wales on 12 August 2016, and on 22 August 2016 a court order to wind up the company and appoint a liquidator was issued.
Conservation Central Network claimed to have a way of saving forests and making money. The method was simple enough. You paid money to CCN. Then you persuaded your friends do the same. Then your friends persuaded their friends to pay CCN. And so on. Sounds like a pyramid scheme, doesn’t it?
Conservation Central Network claims to have Papua New Guinea, Australia, Colombia and Peru. Recently CCN launched a new project involving coconut plantations in the Solomon Islands.
Sponsoring coconut trees in the Solomon Islands
In a recent video on YouTube, Conservation Central Network explains its “Sponsor a coconut tree in the Solomons” scheme. That’s Ian on the left and Sandy sitting down:
Ian’s a progressive young businessman. He’s just watched the whole process happening and he has a question. He wants to know how quickly he could make back the €3,000 he just spent sponsoring trees. He just watched Sandy make €1,500 from that process and he quickly recognises that all he needs to do is find two people and that would cover the €3,000 sponsorship of the coconut trees.
And that’s how simple, er, the process is. It’s a two part payment system consisting of a voucher that you get from a member and a direct payment to the company. So that’s how the voucher system works with the sponsor a coconut tree programme.
Erminio Kotlar, the man who set up Conservation Central Network was previously involved in a pyramid scheme called LifeWealth8, that collapsed in 2004, leaving its 30,000 members nearly US$20 million out of pocket.
CCN’s fake addresses in Hong Kong
In September 2015, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission updated its Alert List to include Conservation Central Network and CCN Holdings Limited. In its Alert List, the Securities and Futures Commission notes that the addresses these companies give in Hong Kong are fake and that the companies are not authorised to operate in Hong Kong:
A €40 million collapse?
REDD-Monitor first wrote about Conservation Central Network in February 2015. Campbell Scott, the co-founder of CCN responded by accusing REDD-Monitor of making libelous “untruths, inaccuracies and malice”. He wrote that,
The accusation of CCN being a fraudulent pyramid scheme is libelous and wrong we have been scrutinized by the Direct Selling association and various government bodies in this regards and have complied with all rules and regulations to date.
Investigative journalist Antonio Papaleo estimates that about 20,000 people in more than 100 countries have handed over a total of more than €40 million to CCN.