By Chris Lang
The scam company MH Carbon was established in September 2010 by Jonathan Cocks and Gavin Manerowski. On 24 October 2012, Jeffrey Razaq took over as director of the company. MH Carbon operated as a boiler room and sold worthless carbon credits to more than 500 people. The company raised about £18.7 million.
REDD-Monitor first wrote about MH Carbon in January 2013:
In May 2013, the company went into voluntary liquidation:
In July 2015, Razaq was disqualified for 14 years from acting as a director “for conduct while acting at MH Carbon Limited”.
Essex and London Properties
Razaq moved on to the next scam: Essex and London Properties Limited. The company claimed to buy properties along the route of the Crossrail railway running from London to Essex. The properties were supposed to be refurbished and re-sold at a profit. An Essex and London Properties corporate brochure gave the following “promises”,
Essex and London Properties is raising capital to finance its current and future residential property acquisition and value addition scheme A fixed return of 8% per year which will be paid on a quarterly basis All capital raised will be by offering retail clients an opportunity to purchase a Limited Partnership in Essex and London Properties Limited Partnership against a fixed fee of £5,000 for 3 years After 3 years the capital will be repaid to the investors via disposal of residential properties We believe 2015 will be characterised by growing investor confidence as the influx of equity from diverse sources drives a successful resolution
In fact, Essex and London Properties only ever bought one property, a house in Harwich for £147,000. The scam raised more than £13 million from more than 800 people. They made payments between £5,000 and £140,000 to Essex and London Properties.
Despite only buying one house, the company told investors it had bought several properties that had rapidly increased in value. Essex and London Properties also falsified Land Registry documents to give the appearance that the company owned more property than it did.
In May 2017, an investor contacted Essex Police’s Serious Economic Crime Unit and reported that they thought they were a victim of fraud.
The Insolvency Service also investigated the company and found that existing investors received payments not from any return on investments, but from payments made by new investors. It was, in other words, a Ponzi scheme.
One of the companies that promoted the Essex and London Properties scam was a boiler room operation called Heron Global Properties. In January 2019, conman Sami Raja, who had worked at Heron Global Properties, was sentenced to eight years in prison at Southwark Crown Court.
Essex and London Properties scammers found guilty
Seven men were charged. Mohammed Tanveer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to launder proceeds of fraud.
After an 11 week trial at Southwark Crown Court, four men were found guilty at Southwark Crown Court in April 2022:
- Abdul Mukith: guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to launder;
- Florian Pierini: guilty of conspiracy to launder
- Mohammad Hussain: guilty of conspiracy to launder;
- Jeffrey Razaq: guilty of acquiring criminal property.
Sentencing will take place on 25 July 2022.
The two other men, Mitchell Mallin (who was a director of Essex and London Properties) and Anthony Whymark were found not guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to launder. In June 2021, Mallin was banned from being a director for 14 years.
Detective Constable Greig Avery of the Serious Economic Crime Unit said in a statement,
“These men went to exceptional lengths to add “credibility” to their Ponzi scheme and they used every boiler-room tactic they could think of to pretend it was an established, legitimate company and to shamelessly defraud hundreds of investors out of millions of pounds.
“This was a sophisticated scam which financially impacted a large number of victims and I’m incredibly proud that we’ve been able to stop them in their tracks and ensure that they answer for their crimes.”
In 2020 Razaq was banned from driving for 28 days after collecting 15 points on his licence for speeding offences in his BMW. He tried to plead exceptional hardship, telling the court that, “The business depends on my bringing deals through the door.”
He claimed he would lose his job and home if he lost his driving licence. The company would also sack other employees who worked beneath him. Razaq told the court that,
“I haven’t had any holiday and if I was to be banned for weeks rather than months I could take some holiday, which could help my situation rather than lose my job.”
“I am sorry for my actions,” he added, presumably referring to his speeding offences, rather than his actions in systematically scamming people out of millions of pounds.
At the time, despite having been disqualified as a director five years earlier, Razaq was director of a company called Raz Solutions Limited.