By Chris Lang
In January 2019, Sami Raja was convicted in Southwark Crown Court of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and four counts of money laundering. Raja was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in selling carbon credits as investments through companies called Harman Royce Limited and Kendrick Zale Limited.
Raja worked together with Michael Nascimento, Sandeep Dosanjh, James Lanston, and Charanjit Sandhu selling carbon credits to retail investors. Between January 2012 and August 2013, they sold carbon credits at inflated prices to 130 victims, raising a total of £2.4 million.
Raja was arrested in September 2013. It took five years for the case to come to court. In 2016, Raja was banned as a director for 15 years for his role in mis-selling carbon credits through Kendrick Zale.
Sami Raja: “Ain’t no one bursting my bubble”
But Raja didn’t appear in Southwark Crown Court in January 2019. He’d already fled to Dubai.
A couple of weeks after the ruling in Southwark Crown Court, Raja put out a press release announcing plans to expand his Dubai-based company, Sami Raja Consultancy.
From Dubai, Raja posted pictures on his Instagram account of his travels around the world. He stayed in five star hotels, wore designer clothes, a £4,000 Rolex, and drove a £33,000 Aston Martin.
In January 2019, three days after he was sentenced in London, Raja posted pictures of himself in a luxury resort in the Maldives, where rooms cost up to £10,000 a night. In one picture, Raja posed in an infinity Jacuzzi, with the caption, “Ain’t no one bursting my bubble”.
Raja was arrested in July 2020, when he travelled to Athens. On 27 August 2020, he appeared at Southwark Crown Court and was sent to prison.
In December 2020, Raja appealed his convictions at the Court Appeal together with six other men. Their appeal followed the collapse of a carbon fraud trial in May 2019 featuring Andrew Ager as expert witness. The judge described Ager as “not an expert of suitable caliber”.
Between 2012 and 2019, Ager gave evidence in 14 criminal trials. The judgement from the December 2020 Court of Appeal ruled that although Ager’s behaviour as an expert witness was “egregious”, the substance of Ager’s evidence on key issues was not challenged. In addition to Ager’s evidence, “there was abundant other evidence that all of these schemes were fraudulent”.
Sami Raja’s legal team: “Professionally embarrassed”
The Court of Appeal judgement reveals that Raja wasn’t the only one who didn’t turn up to his January 2019 trial in Southwark Crown Court:
Prior to the commencement of the trial, Raja’s legal representatives withdrew on the basis that they were professionally embarrassed.
The Court of Appeal judgement explains that both Harman Royce and Kendrick Zale made misrepresentations and defrauded the public in two separate ways:
First, the carbon credits that were being sold were not suitable products for investment, certainly in the way that they were marketed. Second, although some carbon credits had been bought by each brokerage, these were sold to the investors at heavily inflated prices, namely more than double their original purchase price and therefore considerably in excess of their actual worth. None of the investors recovered any of the monies that were transferred either to Harman Royce or Kendrick Zale. Even when the carbon credits existed, these were in reality inaccessible to the investor and were, in any event, worthless. It was the prosecution’s case that the conspirators failed to mention the problems with secondary markets for carbon credits.
The judgement describes how the companies cold called people. Those targeted “were often older people, along with others, who had available money to invest”. The scammers told investors that the returns after 18 to 24 months could be between 25 and 30%.
The judgement states that,
None of the victims had their monies returned, despite having been told during telephone calls that the value of their investment was rising and that there was no danger of any loss. Banking evidence demonstrated that a large percentage of the funds received from investors were not used to buy carbon credits. Only £477,807 was spent in this way, out of the almost £1,500,000 transferred by investors to Harman Royce. Investors were not told the truth about the commission payments; indeed, funds received directly from investors was the only source of income for the company.
Harman Royce was one of almost 90 companies listed on Carbon Neutral Investments list of clearing members. When the High Court shut down 19 companies in 2016 following an investigation by the Insolvency Service, including Carbon Neutral Investments, Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Service, commented,
This stoke of boiler rooms was one giant scam emitting the now all too familiar hot air on an industrial scale, persuading ordinary people to part with their hard earned savings to invest in near worthless voluntary carbon credits which were aggressively peddled to them by these companies at significantly inflated prices.
The Court of Appeal judgement states that,
In October 2012, Harman Royce essentially became uncontactable. Those who had bought VERs through Harman Royce had been told that the VERs were now held by a company called CNI. Investors who made enquiries with CNI received confirmation that this was the case. In 2013 the investors received a letter telling them that the credits had been transferred to Genmax [sic] Solutions.
Gemmax Solutions appears in several posts on REDD-Monitor:
Kendrick Zale sold Certified Emission Reduction (CER) carbon credits for an average of £2.99 each. The company bought them for between 67p and 83p.
Kendrick Zale provided documentation that supposedly showed historic and predicted prices for CERs. But the information was false. The Court of Appeal judgement states that,
Investors were provided with documentation purporting to show historic and predicted pricings for CERs that were untrue. These graphs were credited to Reuters, but the latter attested that they were not genuine as they had been altered. The brochures produced for Kendrick Zale contained information which suggested that the conspirators were aware the VERs were worthless. Furthermore, publications seized from the offices contained genuine pricing information for CER carbon credits, along with future market trends, which tended to demonstrate that those involved were aware that this enterprise was dishonest. The price of CERs during the operational period of Kendrick Zale was €0.37 per credit and no increases in prices were predicted.
Sami Raja’s scams were not limited to Harman Royce and Kendrick Zale. His Dubai-based company, Sami Raja Consultancy, listed the following companies as its clients:
That’s a scary list of companies to be associated with.
Essex & London Properties was shut down in 2018 after an investigation by the Insolvency Service. The company raised £18.9 million from retail investors and creditors. The company claimed to buy properties and sell them for a profit. In fact, the company only bought one property: a house in Harwich for £147,000.
Here’s more about the Heron Global Partners scam:
More about the Bar Works scam:
And more about the Amyma scam: