By Chris Lang
Kurt Kaiser, Director of Compass Carbon LLC, has written to REDD-Monitor in response to last week’s post about a company called World Wide Carbon LLC. The post focussed on the fact that on 1 December 2020, Mark Loewen, one of the company’s directors, had pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud.
At the end of the post, I mentioned that Compass Carbon, a company registered the day after Loewen’s guilty plea, has a website that is almost identical to World Wide Carbon’s website. “A key difference being that Mark Loewen is not listed as a team member,” I wrote.
A day later, I received the following email from Kurt Kaiser of Compass Carbon:
From: Kurt Kaiser
Date: 19 December 2020
Subject: Mark Loewen
To: Chris Lang
My name is Kurt Kaiser. I am a partner in Compass Carbon, LLC, the entity formed on December 6th, 2020 that you mentioned in your article dated December 18th, 2020.
Your article was of great concern to us as it seems to imply that Compass Carbon, LLC is somehow currently connected with Mark Loewen. Let me state in no uncertain terms that this is not the case. We would have welcomed the chance to give comment on this matter and set the record straight prior to publication of your article, but unfortunately were not contacted by yourself or a member of your staff to do so.
To be clear neither myself, or any other members of Compass Carbon, were ever implicated, or even contacted, by the Department of Justice in relation to the investigation into Mark Loewen’s activities that led to his December 8 guilty plea. We had no involvement or knowledge whatsoever in any Mark Loewen’s activities that resulted in his conviction.
When Mark Loewen pled guilty to one count of wire fraud on December 6th, we were shocked. He had assured us that he had done nothing wrong and was cooperating with the DOJ investigation. He laid all blame on his CFO Alex McClarty who pled guilty over the summer and worked out a plan to make restitution to the victims. When we learned of Mark Loewen’s guilty plea, we took immediate steps to sever any and all relations with him and immediately started doing damage control on all of the legitimate IFM projects we have been working on the two previous years.
You are correct to observe that the website and that many of the team members listed on the Compass Carbon website are the same and the website has a similar look and feel. The reason for this is that I paid for the website in 2018 and I took it with me when we created Compass Carbon.
With the exception of one member, the entire Compass Carbon team engaged with Worldwide Carbon in 2018 solely to pursue new carbon development projects that were in no way related to the activities that Mark Loewen’s guilty plea was related to.
The one member of Compass Carbon who was working with WWC prior to that date was involved primarily in raising friends and family investment for Worldwide Carbon. He raised over $1.7 million and the entirety of his family’s investment was lost. His relatives are in fact all listed as victims on the DOJ victims report and was in no way involved in any of Mark Loewen’s fraudulent activities. This partner of Compass Carbon and his family have in fact suffered the most by Mark Loewen’s illegal activities.
We ask that you please revise your article to remove any suggestion that Compass Carbon is in any way affiliated with Mark Loewen. We were victims as well! We would be happy to speak with you directly to discuss any questions that you might have.
REDD-Monitor has some questions for Kaiser in an attempt to shed more light on his story. The questions are listed below and REDD-Monitor looks forward to posting Kaiser’s response in full in due course.
First we’ll go through some of the issues raised by Kaiser’s email.
Who is Kurt Kaiser?
Let’s start with Kaiser’s bio-blurb on the Compass Carbon website (which is identical to his bio-blurb on the World Wide Carbon website – even down to the two full stops after the bit about his degree in Business Administration). He’s described as Director of Operations (at both companies):
Kurt brings 30 years of entrepreneurial and management experience in various industries including real estate development, technology, and commodities trade to the Worldwide Carbon Team.
Kurt started his career as a clerk on the floor of New York Stock exchange. He soon branched off into real estate by buying and selling fixer-upper homes and formed Kaiser Development in 1988. As President of Kaiser Development, Kurt expanded the company from a small New York City residential developer into a developer of large scale residential and commercial projects in many states along the US East Coast. In the late 1990’s Kurt invested in several technology related start-ups and worked closely with these companies in order to develop these technologies. In 2010, Kurt formed Ikon Energy for the purpose of trading petroleum and energy related products.
Kurt attended the University of Miami and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.. He is also a graduate of the ICE (Intercontinental Exchange) Oil Trader Academy, located in London.
Sure enough, Kaiser’s LinkedIn page lists his experience as CEO of Kaiser Development, and Managing Partner of Ikon Energy, LLC. His LinkedIn page has him working at Kaiser Development from 1990, and Ikon Energy from 2014, rather than 1988 and 2010 respectively as the Compass Carbon website states.
A search on OpenCorporates does not come up with any company called Kaiser Development registered in 1988 (or in 1990). A company called Ikon Energy, LLC was registered in Kentucky in 2010 but was dissolved in 2011, and a company called Ikon Energy Group, Inc was registered in Florida in 2014.
I’ve asked Kaiser to clarify where Kaiser Development and Ikon Energy were registered, and when.
REDD-Monitor did contact Compass Carbon
On its website, Compass Carbon lists four people in its team:
- Brad Upham: Director of Strategy & Business Development;
- Kurt Kaiser: Director of Operations;
- R. Todd Jones: Lead Counsel; and
- Shayne A. Reeb: Director of Analytics & Monitoring.
REDD-Monitor contacted Shayne A. Reeb via his LinkedIn profile the day before the post went live:
Reeb responded quickly to REDD-Monitor’s link request on LinkedIn, but Reeb did not reply to my questions.
I contacted Reeb because of a page on World Wide Carbon’s website that stated:
Worldwide Carbon Works Hard and Achieves a Patent
The Worldwide Carbon, LLC Team has developed and patented (#US20060195334A1) our proprietary Syntaq data logging and control software platform which provides for the highest level of analytics and ongoing monitoring recognized by Det Norske Veritas, the world’s leading third party verifier.
The patent is a real patent. And one of its inventors was Shayne Reeb. The application was filed by Agcert Services (USA) Inc and Sequoia Communications Corp. The Patent Application Publication is dated 31 August 2006. In May 2008, the patent was assigned to XL Techgroup, Inc, and in July 2008, it was assigned to LV Administrative Services, Inc. The current status is “Abandoned”.
The same claim about the patent is made on the Compass Carbon website.
Given that the patent was filed six years before World Wide Carbon was registered and 14 years before Compass Carbon was registered how can either company claim to have worked hard to achieve a patent? Particularly when the current status of the patent is abandoned?
Yesterday, I also contacted Todd Jones, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. According to the company website, Jones is “Lead Counsel” of Compass Carbon. He was also “Lead Counsel” of World Wide Carbon. I asked Jones to confirm that he is in fact “Lead Counsel” of Compass Carbon, and, if so, to explain what this involves.
An old colleague from my initial carbon company in the mid-2000’s introduced me to Mark a couple of years ago. I never gave him permission to use my name. I will ask them to remove my name. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
Taylor Hayes Solicitors?
While I was working on this post, Kaiser sent another email:
From: Kurt Kaiser
Date: 21 December 2020
Subject: Mark Loewen
To: Chris Lang
I e-mailed you on December 18th regarding the article you wrote/published about Mark Loewen, and which directly and clearly implied that our company Compass Carbon, LLC has a connection with Mark Loewen. You have not replied to my e-mail and the article has not yet been retracted. We are trying our very best to resolve this matter quickly and amicably. However, we have contacted Taylor Hayes Solicitors in London and if the article is not fully and immediately retracted and an apology issued, we will be forced to move forward with legal action against you. Be advised that time is of the essence!
Partner, Compass Carbon, LLC
I’m baffled about how Kaiser has gone from asking that REDD-Monitor, “please revise your article to remove any suggestion that Compass Carbon is in any way affiliated with Mark Loewen”, to stating that, “if the article is not fully and immediately retracted and an apology issued, we will be forced to move forward with legal action against you”.
I’ve asked Kaiser to confirm which firm of solicitors he’s in contact with in London.
UPDATE – 23 December 2020: Kaiser also responded to this post. He didn’t answer any of REDD-Monitor’s questions, but he did repeat his threat of legal action:
Some questions for Kurt Kaiser
- On the Compass Carbon website, you are described as having formed Kaiser Development in 1988 (your LinkedIn page says 1990) and Ikon Energy in 2010 (or 2014 on LinkedIn). Please claify where these companies were registered, and when. Links to any press articles about the two companies, websites, and company brochures, would also be helpful.
- World Wide Carbon had a mission “to contribute to the reversal of global warming with sustainable solutions”. Could you please explain why you joined World Wide Carbon, with your background as an entrepreneur and trader of petroleum and energy related products?
- You joined World Wide Carbon in 2018, but did not list the company on your LinkedIn page. Why not? The same question applies to Compass Carbon.
- Could you please explain why you think that my post about World Wide Carbon implies that “Compass Carbon, LLC is somehow currently connected with Mark Loewen”. My post clearly states that “Mark Loewen is not listed as a team member” of Compass Carbon.
- Compass Carbon’s website mentions a patent invented by Shayne Reeb (US20060195334A1), under the headline “Compass Carbon Works Hard and Achieves a Patent”. Shayne Reeb is, as you know, listed on the Compass Carbon website as Director of Analytics & Monitoring. But the Patent Application Publication is dated 31 August 2006. The current status of the patent is “Abandoned”. Given that the patent was filed 14 years before Compass Carbon was registered, and that the patent’s current status is abandoned, how can Compass Carbon claim to have worked hard and achieved a patent?
- You say you were shocked when Mark Loewen “pled guilty to one count of wire fraud on December 6th”. The Department of Justice press release is dated 1 December 2020. The court document states that,
World Wide Carbon LLC, through LOEWEN, McLarty, and other agents, promised and, in some instances, guaranteed investors rates of return from 5 to 20%. In truth and fact, as LOEWEN well knew, the investors did not earn any income from their investments because the money was used for other purposes. Any funds returned to investors came from others investors’ funds.
How did you manage to work as Director of Operations at World Wide Carbon for two years without being aware that the company had been running a Ponzi scheme?
- You mention that one member of Compass Carbon was working with World Wide Carbon before 2018 and involved in “raising friends and family investment for Worldwide Carbon”. Which member of Compass Carbon was that? Did you not talk to them about their dealings with Loewen and World Wide Carbon? Why was it not apparent to you as Director of Operations that Loewen had been running a scam?
- According to the court documents, World Wide Carbon ran a fraud from 2013 to 2018. You state that “the entire Compass Carbon team engaged with Worldwide Carbon in 2018 solely to pursue new carbon development projects that were in no way related to the activities that Mark Loewen’s guilty plea was related to”. But why on earth would you want anything at all to do with World Wide Carbon? Why didn’t the entire Compass Carbon team just set up its own company to pursue new carbon development projects?
- On its website, Compass Carbon claims to have “Over one million acres of forestry and emission reduction credits in Brazil and the United States utilizing unique IFM planting of teak and eucalyptus trees,” and “Initial project development stages of several IFM developments (totaling over 5,000,000 acres located in Canada).” Could you please explain exactly which projects are involved in this “over one million acres” of “improved forest management”? What are the projects in Canada?
- The Compass Carbon website states that “The company and its team have completed more than 750 domestic and international carbon credit projects.” Could you please provide a list of these 750 carbon credits projects, complete with dates, and how the Compass Carbon team was involved in each project. In your email to REDD-Monitor you stated that following Loewen’s guilty plea, you “immediately started doing damage control on all the legitimate IFM projects we have been working on the two previous years”. Could you please provide a list of these improved forest management projects. Are any of them registered or verified with third party standards organisations (such as Verra)? What “damage control” did you carry out?
- Clicking on the “Learn More” button near the bottom of the first page of the Compass Carbon website links to a page on the World Wide Carbon website. Clicking on the link takes us to a web page parked free courtesy of GoDaddy. The same is true of a “What we do” link at the bottom of each page on the Compass Carbon website. Some of the questions on Compass Carbon’s FAQs page are directed to World Wide Carbon LLC.
Could you please describe the services that Compass Carbon provides? And can you please explain how this is different to the services provided by World Wide Carbon? Does Compass Carbon intend to sell carbon credits to retail investors?
- The Compass Carbon website includes a page titled “Our Accreditations”. These include the Gold Standard Registry, the Verified Carbon Standard Registry, the Markit Environmental Registry, the CBL Markets Environmental Trading Platform, the Markit ARB Auction Platform, the Air Resources Board CITSS Account, the Climate Action Reserve Project Registry, and the LMOP Landfill Methan Outreach Program EPA. This is the same list that Does Compass Carbon really have all these accreditations? If so, could you please provide some proof?
- There appears to be a problem with the security certification of the Compass Carbon website:
Another website has the same problem: tingalayo.com. This website appears to be a copy of the World Wide Carbon website. Could you please explain what’s going on with these various websites?
- Please confirm the correct name of the firm of solicitors you contacted in London.