The Eco Resources Fund was launched in July 2012 in the Isle of Man. Via a special purpose vehicle called ERF Limited, the Fund invested in bamboo plantations in Nicaragua and South Africa. The bamboo plantations are run by EcoPlanet Bamboo.
Back in 2012, a company called EcoPlanet Bamboo (UK) Ltd sold “bamboo bonds” to retail investors. The company promised returns of up to 895%. In December 2015, EcoPlanet Bamboo, the US-based parent company of EcoPlanet Bambo, wrote to bondholders offering them the option of converting their bonds into shares in the Eco Resources Fund.
Here’s the timeline since then:
30 November 2016: The manager of the Eco Resources Fund, the Premier Group (Isle of Man), went into liquidation.
16 December 2016: The High Court in the Isle of Man appointed an inspector to investigate the Eco Resources Fund, and the manager (Premier Group (Isle of Man) Limited), administrator (Moore Fund Administration (IOM) Limited), and custodian (Kleinwort Benson (Guernsey) Limited) of the fund.
20 December 2016: The directors of the Eco Resources Fund resigned after shareholders voted against liquidating the company.
22 December 2016: The IoM Financial Services Authority appointed Gordon Wilson of CW Consulting to assume control of the affairs of the Fund.
7 February 2017: Premier Group (Isle of Man) resigned as manager of the Fund. Moore Fund Administration (IOM) Limited is no longer adminstrator of the Fund. And the custodian, Kleinword Benson (Guernsey) has given notice to terminate its services.
9 March 2017: The Company Secretary resigned.
16 March 2017: A judge in the High Court of Justice in the Isle of Man ordered the Eco Resources Fund to be wound up. Gordon Wilson of CW Consulting Limited was appointed liquidator of the Eco Resources Fund.
Three new directors were supposed to take over after the directors resigned in December 2016. The new directors were to be John Charles Bourbon (a director of the Premier Group (Isle of Man) Limited); Richard Robinson; and Troy Douglas Wiseman (the co-founder and CEO of EcoPlanet Bamboo).
In response to the question, who is responsible for the fund’s investments?, the IoM Financial Services Authority tells us that, “The governing body of the fund is ultimately responsible for its investments.” But the IoM FSA also tells us that, “The proposed new directors have since refused to act, leaving the fund without a governing body.”
The Eco Resources Fund had been struggling to raise financing since 2014. By December 2016, the fund had only £12,545.73 left. Meanwhile, it had run up debts of over US$2 million.
The Eco Resources Fund was an unregulated collective investment scheme. The IoM Financial Services Authority press release includes a diagram of the Eco Resources Fund structure:
There are two questions in the Frequently Asked Questions that I’m sure investors in the Eco Resources Fund and EcoPlanet Bamboo will be interested in:
What has happened to the money I invested?
The money invested by you was invested by the governing bodies of Eco into ERF Limited and then onwards either by purchasing shares in or lending money to the plantation companies.
The recovery of value in those investments by Eco is dependent upon any value received for the plantations, however, as stated by Mr Gordon Wilson in his communication to participants on 8 March 2017, Mr Troy Wiseman has advised that Sustainable Asset Lending (“SAL”) has foreclosed on the plantation assets, therefore any recovery appears unlikely.
Will I get any of my money back?
At this stage it is not possible to estimate the amount of any recovery on the investments made by Eco. The financial distress of the underlying companies and the apparent foreclosure by SAL, does however mean that substantial recovery of value from the plantations may be unlikely.
For updates on what is happening the IoM Financial Services Authority gives the following contact details:
Mr Gordon Wilson
CW Consulting Limited
5-19 Athol Street
Isle of Man
Tel: +44 (01624) 623195
Email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Authority can be contacted on email@example.com.