By Chris Lang
Earlier this week two men were jailed for their role in London-based scam companies that sold carbon credits as investments. Michale Foran and Kallan Henry were jailed for four-and-a-half years and one-and-a-half years respectively.
Foran and Henry were convicted of conspiracy to defraud. Migle Sasyte was also found guilty and will be sentenced in January 2017.
The companies involved in these scams were London Carbon Credit Company and Henderson International Associates. Daily Mirror journalist Andrew Penman exposed London Carbon Credit Company’s scams in August 2012.
In court, Kallan Henry claimed to be unaware that he was involved in a scam. He undermined this claim somewhat when he admitted to having read Penman’s article about his company. “As soon as I saw the article I was extremely worried,” Penman reports him as saying in court. But Henry continued to work for London Carbon Credit Company after reading Penman’s article. Apparently his associate, Samuel Henriot, assured him that everything was fine.
Detective Constable Mark Loftus, of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Falcon Complex Fraud Team, commented:
“This organised criminal group defrauded more than 80 people out of millions of pounds by deliberately selling carbon credits they knew were worthless or of nominal value. The leaders of the group instructed their staff to make hundreds of cold calls every day and then tell lies to prospective customers to persuade them to invest in the fraudulent schemes. These were sophisticated frauds carried out by a group who were determined not to stop. However the Complex Fraud Team was able to expose the deceptive, criminal behaviour of the men who posed as legitimate businessmen.”
Clinton Foundation carbon credits
On its website, London Carbon Credit Company claimed to be in “advanced negotiations” with the Clinton Foundation to be “sole UK provider of carbon credits produced from the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Carbon Capture and Forestry projects”.
It may have sounded convincing, but it was a lie. When REDD-Monitor asked the Clinton Foundation about their relationship with the London Carbon Credit Company, D. James Baker at the Clinton Foundation replied, “This matter is a known fraud.”
The instigators of the scam were jailed after a trial in Southwark Crown Court that finished in August 2016. The Metropolitan Police lists the following other members of the gang:
James Francis Byrne, 30 (11.04.86), of Seven Sea Gardens, E3, was jailed for a total of 11 years for three counts of conspiracy to defraud. He was the ring leader of the entire operation and received by far the biggest share of the proceeds. His sentence included his guilty plea to a previous fraud that he had been involved in.
James Patrick Byrne, 57 (22.05.59), of Whitton Walk, E3, was jailed for a total of five years for two counts of conspiracy to defraud. He was the father of James Francis Byrne who occupied a managerial position and was a significant beneficiary of the fraud.
Young Erumuse, 35 (10.08.81), of Springdale Road, N16, was jailed for a total of four years for two counts of conspiracy to defraud. He was a front man for the London Carbon Credit Company (LCCC) and acted as director for the company and the holder of key bank accounts.
Max Jefferys, 31 (28.01.85), of Whitehall Road, Woodford Green, was jailed for four years for one count of conspiracy to defraud. He was a closer who netted substantial rewards from commission. He must also serve a further 18 months in jail after he pleaded guilty to a previous fraud he had been involved in.
Vladimir Rusaliychev, 32 (13.12.83), of Galleons Road, E16, was jailed for a total of five years for two counts of conspiracy to defraud. He was another closer who netted substantial rewards from commission.
Samuel Henriot, 25 (25.05.91), of Bermuda Road, Tilbury, Essex, was jailed for a total of four years for two counts of conspiracy to defraud. He was another front man for the company being a director of companies associated with London Carbon Credit Company (LCCC) and the holder of bank accounts used to launder the proceeds of that fraud.
James Francis Byrne started selling carbon credits after being involved in a land banking scam called Paramount Land UK Limited.
Henderson International Associates
There were two parts to this scam, both of which involved convincing people that worthless carbon credits were actually valuable and would increase in price. London Carbon Credit Company was a boiler room operation selling carbon credits as investments. Henderson International Associates was a pension transfer fraud, aiming to persuade people to invest their pension in carbon credits.
Someone calling themselves “hugheskevi” documented several phone conversations he had following a cold call from Henderson International Associates on the forum moneysavingexpert.com. It’s worth reading the entire discussion, but here are notes of the highlights:
21 August 2012: Henderson International called hugheskevi from a withheld number. They asked about his pension and suggested he had contacted them first. (hugheskevi doesn’t remember doing so.)
Henderson International told him that in the last year £750 billion had been wiped from the value of pensions. They also said that with all the stories about banks you need to be careful with financial dealings. They offered the chance to switch his pension to a SIPP and invest in carbon credits.
Henderson sent a brochure in the post and promised a follow up call from a manager next week.
22 August 2012: Someone more senior at Henderson International rang and asked whether he had received the brochure. (He hadn’t.)
Henderson International told him that carbon credits have a floor price of £16, but will increase to between €40-90 soon, because companies have to catch up. Barclays Bank recently invested in carbon credits. Many pensions had lost money, but this could put him back on track. The credits are expected to return 11% per year.
The brochure arrived with the post later the same day. The cover letter stated that,
Certified Emission Reductions or CER Carbon Credits as more commonly known are quickly becoming one of the most popular commodities to trade amongst investors who have decided to move away from the underperforming equity markets, and have grown tired of the rock bottom interest rates that high street banks are currently offering.
24 August 2012: hugheskevi’s dedicated account manager at Henderson International is Sean Williams.
Henderson International stated that CERs are growing at 11% per annum. So by 2020, hugheskevi’s £50,000 SIPP would have grown to £250,000. Henderson International told him they are based in St Pauls and that all of this is “all regulated by the FSA and above board.”
Application forms would be posted to him today, and another call would follow on Tuesday morning. He had to return all the forms within seven days, to ensure that Carbon Solution or Carbon Investment Group can buy the carbon credits at today’s rates. Henderson International referred to both Carbon Solutions and Carbon Investment Group during the call.
When the application form arrived, the Terms and Conditions explained that one of Henderson International’s services is “access to the supply of carbon credits for inclusion in the SIPP.” Hugheskevi described the scam:
The scam is fairly basic – they have printed some material, put up a website, learnt some basic things and then hoped to lure someone in after buying in a load of contact details from somewhere.
Hugheskevi didn’t fall for the scam. Others weren’t so lucky. A total of 90 people were conned, 78 people bought worthless carbon credits from London Carbon Credit Company, and 12 people transferred their pensions through Henderson International Associates. The gang raked in a total of £2.3 million.
Since 2013, London Carbon Credit Company has been in liquidation. The most recent report from the liquidators, Grant Thornton, dated 8 July 2016 includes this progress report:
3.1 I have undertaken a review of the Company’s assets, which comprise of cash at bank in the sum of £100,000 and have ascertained that the assets are subject to a Restraint Order (RO) issued against the director of the Company, which also includes the assets of the Company.
3.2 As a result of the RO which was obtained by the police I am not permitted to deal with the assets of the Company. Therefore, my investigations are currently on hold pending the outcome of the police action or any potential variation or removal of the RO.
3.3 The police are continuing to progress action in relation to the RO and have indicated that the RO will remain in place until such time as these investigations and potential criminal proceedings are concluded. I continue to liaise with the police to obtain regular updates in respect of their investigations.
3.4 I have also sought legal advice in respect of actions that I may take to ensure the maximisation fo realisations in the liquidation estate and am continuing to liaise with my solicitors regarding the same.