By Chris Lang
In December 2016, Paul Moore, Michael Moore, and Haydon Driscoll were convicted in Maidstone Crown Court of fraudulently selling carbon credits as investments. They did so through a company called Burbank of London Ltd.
In December 2020, Moore, Moore, and Driscoll appealed their convictions at the Court of Appeal together with four 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”.
Burbank of London Limited
The Court of Appeal judgement describes how Burbank operated:
Individuals were allegedly persuaded to invest in VERs via Burbank, having been offered the false incentive that the carbon credit market was expanding. They were promised that there would be returns of the order of 30% over periods as short as 6 months and, generally, there was a prospect of high-level returns on resale.
Burbank received a total of almost £750,000 from its victims. Of this, only about £250,000 was used to buy carbon credits (VERs – Verified Emission Reductions).
Burbank convinced a Mr. Littlewood to invest his £70,000 pension in carbon credits. But Burbank didn’t buy any carbon credits. The money was withdrawn from the company bank account on the same day that Littlewood transferred the funds. “It disappeared and was never recovered,” the Court of Appeal judgement notes.
Carbon Coactive Ltd sold VERs to Burbank. Carbon Coactive bought VERs wholesale from carbon project developers and sold them to brokers. Carbon Coactive was aware that the brokers were selling the carbon credits to retail investors.
One of the shareholders of Carbon Coactive was a company called SJL Risk Limited, a company that has appeared on REDD-Monitor a couple of times:
Manor Rose, Cavendish Moore, Symbiosis Health Care, and William Albert Securities Ltd
Paul Moore had previously worked with a £3.4 million scam called Manor Rose that sold carbon credits as investments.
As part of this scam, Moore created the impression that there was a secondary market for VERs. He persuaded a company called Semicom Visual Limited to buy VERs at an inflated price. He also convinced Semicom Visual to buy VERs from investors at a price higher than they had paid Manor Rose to buy the carbon credits. Moore thus created “the false impression that there was a genuinely rising market”, the Court of Appeal judgement states.
Manor Rose was part of a web of landbanking and carbon credit companies that were ordered into liquidation in the High Court in May 2012. In addition to Manor Rose, the companies involved included, MR Investment Club Limited, MR Investment Club Phase 1 LLP, Manor Rose Carbon Credit Limited, Betta Build (NW) Ltd, MRT Land Holdings Ltd, Boldacre Ltd, Morgan Rey Consultants Limited, and Dakota Partners International CC Limited.
Michael Moore was involved in a landbanking scam called Cavendish Moore. The company took almost £7 million from hundreds of people, many of them elderly. The Guardian warned about Cavendish Moore in 2011. In 2014, the Guardian reported on an agreement that the Financial Conduct Authority made with Cavendish Moore, under which the company would hand back only £600,000 to investors.
Michael Moore and Paul Moore were also involved in a £1.4 million scam selling shares in a company called Symbiosis Healthcare Plc. Here’s a description of that scam from the Financial Conduct Authority’s press release about the sentencing of the ring leader of the scam, Samrat Bhandari:
Between 2009 and 2014, mainly elderly and vulnerable investors were targeted and mis-sold shares in Symbiosis Healthcare plc (‘Symbiosis’) through a combination of cold-calling, pressure sales and the publication of exaggerated promotional material. Symbiosis was set up by Dr Aleem Mirza and purported to be a successful company offering ‘healthcare solutions’ in Dubai and elsewhere in the world. In reality, the shares in the company were effectively worthless and investors lost a total of just over £1.4 million in the scheme. Samrat Bhandari, as director of William Albert Securities Ltd, acted as corporate advisor to Symbiosis and organised the selling of Symbiosis shares, while brothers Michael and Paul Moore were part of a team of brokers.