Christopher James Thompson, a director of CT Carbon Limited (“CTCL”), which traded in carbon credits, has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills to be disqualified as a director for a period of 14 years for selling Voluntary Emission Reductions (“VERs”), a type of carbon credit, as an investment.
The disqualification regime exists to protect the public and Mr Thompson’s disqualification from 11 November 2015, means that he cannot promote, manage, or be a director of a limited company until 2029.
This disqualification follows investigation by the Official Receiver at the Public Interest Unit, a specialist team of the Insolvency Service, whose involvement commenced with the winding up of the company in the public interest following an investigation by Company Investigations into the affairs of the company.
The Official Receiver’s investigation uncovered that between 2011 and 2012 CTCL made sales totalling £1.1 million by cold calling members of the public to sell them VERs charging them two and a half to three and a half times the price it had paid its supplier.
After receiving a letter from an investigative journalist highlighting concerns regarding the favourable rates offered by CTCL, the performance of the VERs as an investment, and the absence of a market where investors could sell their VERs, Mr Thompson approached a new supplier and continued to sell VERs.
As early as 2010, it was apparent that HM Revenue & Customs; the Financial Conduct Authority; the Registries and the carbon credit market’s own self-regulating authorities considered that there was no viable exit strategy for the carbon credits sold by NFA at the time and that, even if there was, members of the public had no access to it. Even if there was a viable exit strategy, the price CTCL was charging for the carbon credits meant that the carbon credits could not be sold without financial loss.
Commenting on this case Paul Titherington, Official Receiver in the Public Interest Unit, said:
Mr Thompson should have known that the carbon credits the company was selling were wholly unsuitable as an investment given the price the company charged, and the absence of a marketplace where investors could sell their carbon credits.
In ignoring a letter from a journalist alerting him that he should not be selling these, Mr Thompson displayed a complete disregard to whether members of the public could receive a return on their investment, or sell their carbon credits at all.
Directors who choose to ignore specific concerns and warning signs to the detriment of their clients should expect to be banned from running any limited company for a significant period of time.
Notes to Editors
CT Carbon Ltd was incorporated on 28 July 2011. Its trading address was at 27 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AN.
The petition to wind up the company was presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills in the public interest following an investigation conducted by Company Investigations (Live), another specialist unit within the Insolvency Service which uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 (as amended) to conduct confidential enquiries into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations & Skills (BIS). The winding up order against CT Carbon Ltd was made on 1 May 2014.
On 19 October 2015, Christopher James Thompson signed a disqualification undertaking for a period of 14 years. The period of disqualification commenced on 11 November 2015.
A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:
- act as a director of a company
- take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
- be a receiver of a company’s property
In addition that person cannot act as an insolvency practitioner and there are many other restrictions are placed on disqualified directors by other regulations.
Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions is available.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.
Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.
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Published: 19 November 2015
From: The Insolvency Service