Press release

Major carbon credit network unpicked by the Insolvency Service

19 companies involved in a giant boiler room scam to sell carbon credits to the public for investment have been ordered into liquidation in the public interest, following petitions presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills.

The winding-up orders by the High Court on 3 February, at which the companies had each filed no evidence and did not oppose the proceedings and were not present or represented at the hearings, followed an Insolvency Service investigation that revealed well over 5 million carbon credits were sold to the public for sums in excess of £36 million.

At one stage there were nearly 90 individual broker companies involved in the scheme, many of which have been forcibly closed already as a result of the Insolvency Service’s intervention.

The Official Receiver now appointed to administer the liquidation of these latest companies will be glad to hear from investors who have dealt with them.

Welcoming the Court’s decisions Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor, said:

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.

Thanks to the hard work of investigators, Chris Gray and Joe Peacock and by working closely with other regulators, this operation has been effectively curtailed. This is not the end of the matter and I would once more urge investors to be green, not gullible and to hang up on cold calling con artists.

The Insolvency Service will act whenever serious failings are discovered and ‘close the deal’ on unscrupulous companies to prevent them from profiting by their bullying and deceitful tactics and inflicting misery on ordinary people.

Notes to Editors:

Alpine Consult Limited

Company registration number 7222266, was incorporated on 13 April 2010. The registered office of the company has been:

  • 2 Ebner Street, London, SW18 1BT from incorporation to 26 May 2011
  • Finsgate, 5-7 Cranwood Street, London, EC1V 9EE from 26 May 2011 to 31 January 2013
  • International House, 1-6 Yarmouth Place, London, W1J 7BU from 31 January 2013 to 15 June 2015
  • Litton House, Saville Road, Peterborough, PE3 7PR from 15 June 2015 to present date

The recorded directors of the company have been James David Brown from incorporation to present date and Thomas Leo Knifton from incorporation to 1 September 2012. The secretary throughout is shown to have been Mr Brown.

The company was the initial sole supplier of the carbon credits ultimately marketed and sold to members of the public for investment by the various broker companies until it was replaced by Environmental Acquisitions Limited in or around April 2012.

Between September 2011 and April 2012 the company received £808,000 for the supply of carbon credits. The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Environmental Acquisitions Limited

A company registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI number 1705590) was incorporated on 5 April 2012.

The registered office is PO Box 3175, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. The sole recorded director of the company from incorporation to present date has been White Port Finance Ltd, a company registered in the Bahamas (company number 163753 (B) ).

The ultimate beneficial owner of the company is Thomas Leo Knifton.

The company’s administrative office is shown to be c/o Monaco Corporate Secretariat in Monaco.

Environmental Acquisitions Limited replaced Alpine Consult Limited as the sole source of carbon credits for the scheme and between 25 April 2012 and 27 July 2012 issued invoices totalling £2,310,000 for the supply of carbon credits ultimately marketed and sold to the public for investment by the various broker companies.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Blue Horizons Trading Ltd

company registration number 07732231, was incorporated on 8 August 2011.

The registered office throughout was 78 York Street, London, W1H 1DP until 17 August 2015 when the company resolved to enter into creditors voluntary liquidation with reported assets of £760 and reported liabilities of £117,741. Robert James Thompson of 10b Fleet Business Park, Sandy Lane, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hampshire GU52 8BF was appointed voluntary liquidator.

The recorded directors of the company throughout have been Richard Lea Brindle and Richard Smith. No secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from Level 33, 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LQ and 1 Farnham Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 4RG and operated the websites www.blueh.co.uk and www.bluehorizonscarbon.com

Between January 2012 and February 2013, the company sold 348,502 ‘safe and simple’ carbon credits to the public for investment for £2,186,502 generating a profit of at least £1,472,072. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £2.25 each and sold to investors for between £5.40 and £7 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Burlington Energy Markets Ltd

company number 08082882, was incorporated on 25 May 2012 and dissolved on 3 February 2015.

The registered office throughout has been 32 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AY. The recorded directors of the company have been Thomas William Don White from incorporation to 18 September 2012 and Charles James Duffield throughout. No secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from 27 Throgmorton Street, London, EC2N 2AQ and operated a website www.burlingtonenergymarkets.com

The company marketed and sold carbon credits to the public for investment. promising ‘a better rate of return than banks’ of 10 per cent in 6 months. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £2.15 each and sold to investors for between £7.50 and £7.65 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Charles Stratton Limited

company number 07723582, was incorporated on 1 August 2011.

The registered office throughout has been 1 Grosvenor Crescent, Belgravia, London, SW1X 7EF. The recorded directors of the company have been Sami Raja from incorporation to 1 November 2011 and Ansar Ali from incorporation to 5 September 2012. No successor directors (or company secretary) are shown to have been appointed.

The company operated a website www.charlesstratton.co.uk

Between October 2011 and January 2013, the company sold 175,105 carbon credits for £1,037,109 to the public for investment promising returns ‘better than other investments’ of between 50 and150 per cent within 18 months. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £2 each and sold to investors for between £5.35 and £6.40 each.

The full extent of its business is presently undetermined.

Claremont James Ltd

company number 07915497, was incorporated on 19 January 2012.

The registered office has been:

  • 17 New Road Avenue, Chatham, Kent, ME4 6BA from incorporation to 13 April 2012
  • c/o 37th Floor, 1 Canada Square, London, E14 5AA from 13 April 2012 to 18 April 2013
  • 33rd Floor, 25 Canada Square, London, E14 5LQ from 18 April 2013 to present date

The recorded directors of the company have been Brendan Cullen from incorporation to 5 March 2012 and James Jarman from 8 February 2012 to present date. No secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from 33rd Floor, 25 Canada Square, London, E14 5LQ and operated a website www.claremontjames.com

Between February 2012 and February 2013, the company sold 70,924 carbon credits to the public for investment for £501,758 generating a profit of at least £320,901. Investors were once more promised returns ‘better than other investments’ of between 50 and 150 per cent within 18 months. In respect of one project, credits available at 60 pence each were bought by the company for £1.90 each and sold to investors for between £5 and £7.50 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

CNI (UK) Limited

company number 08380328, was incorporated on 29 January 2013 in the name Alfred Henry Shelco 2 Limited.

The name of the company was changed to its present style on 31 January 2013. The registered office throughout has been Finsgate, 5-7 Cranwood Street, London, EC1V 9EE. The recorded directors of the company have been Edward Jonathan Carlton from incorporation to 24 October 2014 and Michael Fortun from 24 October 2014 to present date. The secretary of the company from incorporation to 20 June 2013 is shown to have been Sevim Cesim. No successor secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from International House, 1-6 Yarmouth Place, London, W1J 7BU and operated a website www.cni-uk.com.

The company is shown to have taken over the carbon offsetting and consultancy business of a related company of similar name in or around April 2013, adopting a near identical website.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Clear View Partnership Ltd

company number 08107590, was incorporated on 15 June 2012.

The registered office throughout has been 90 Brixton Hill, London, SW2 1QN. The recorded directors of the company have been Yomtov Eliezer Jacobs for one day only on incorporation; David Pierce from incorporation to 30 September 2012 and Ashley Hunte from 15 June 2012 to present date. No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from Level 18, 40 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5NR and operated a website www.clearviewpartnership.com

Between January and February 2013 the company sold 25,765 carbon credits for £156,601 to the public for investment generating a profit of at least £99,918. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £1.90 each and sold to investors for £6 each with the promise of likely good returns of ‘14 per cent a year’.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Eden Brown Group S.L.

A company registered in Spain (number CIF: B65190092) was incorporated on 07 October 2009.

It is shown to be located at Lugar World Trade Centre Ed, Sur, Piso 2, Muelle Barcelona Spain. The company’s sole recorded director since 06 November 2009 has been Michelle Sylvana Blackwood.

The company operated a website www.edenbrowngroup.com

Between March 2012 and January 2013 the company sold 137,800 carbon credits to the public as a ‘phenomenal investment opportunity’ for £788,789 generating a profit of at least £487,039. In respect of one project, credits available at 37 pence each were purchased for £1.90 each and sold to investors for £6 each with the promise of growth ‘in the order of 8 to 10 per cent per a year’.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undermined.

Enviro Associates Limited

company registration number 07526052, was incorporated on 11 February 2011.

The registered office has been:

  • 1 Scott Road, Eastleigh, Southampton, Hampshire, SO5O 9FW from incorporation to 31 March 2011
  • Southgate Chambers, 37-39 Southgate Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9EH from 31 March 2011 to 29 June 2011
  • International House, 1-6 Yarmouth Place, London, W1J 7BU from 29 June 2011 to present date

The recorded directors of the company have been Luke Michael Ryan from incorporation to present date and Paul Michael Seakens from 1 June 2011 to 1 December 2012. The secretary of the company throughout has been Vaeron Limited (company number 07337101 and ordered into liquidation on 16 February 2015 on the petition of HMRC for £111,094 in respect of unpaid PAYE, NIC, student loan repayment deductions, corporation tax and VAT). The liquidator of Vaeron Limited is James Richard Duckworth of 284 Clifton Drive South, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, FY8 1LH).

The company traded from Southgate Chambers, 37-39 Southgate Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9EH and operated a website www.enviroassociates.org.uk

Between October 2011 and February 2013 the company sold 301,066 carbon credits to the public for investment for £1,451,140 generating a profit of at least £683,422. In respect of one project, credits available at 50 pence each were bought by the company for £2.25 each and sold to investors for between £4 and £7 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Global Carbon Exchange Limited

company number 07661064, was incorporated on 7 June 2011.

The registered office has been:

  • Burnhill Business Centre, 50 Burnhill Road, Beckenham, BR3 3LA from incorporation to 04 August 2011
  • Burnhill House, 50 Burnhill Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 3LA from 04 August 2011 to 23 August 2012
  • 86-90 Paul Street, 3rd Floor, London, EC2A 4NE from 23 August 2012 to present date

The recorded directors of the company have been John Wildman for one day only on incorporation and Stephen Arthur May from incorporation to present date. The company secretary for one day only on incorporation was Sameday Company Services Ltd. No successor secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from Burnhill Business Centre, 50 Burnhill Road, Beckenham, BR3 3LA and operated a website www.gcxglobal.com

Between January and June 2013 the company sold a total of 39,283 carbon credits to the public for investment for £271,986 generating a profit of at least £171,814. Investors were promised ‘steady high yield growth over 3-5 years’ of 15 per cent a year. In respect of one project, credits available at 50 pence each were bought by the company for £2.25 each and sold to investors for between £4 and £7 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Harman Royce Limited

company number 07848560, was incorporated on 15 November 2011.

The registered office from incorporation to 21 February 2013 was 3rd Floor, 14 Hanover Street, London, W1S 1YH and from 21 February 2013 to present date 111 Rye House, 113 High Street, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 8JN.

The recorded directors of the company have been Sami Raja from incorporation to 7 August 2012; Sandeep Singh Dosanjh from incorporation to 7 August 2012 and Lynn Ann Marie Howard from 11 July 2012 to present date. The secretary of the company is shown to have been Mr Dosanjh from incorporation to 7 August 2011. No successor secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from 3rd Floor, 14 Hanover Street, London, W1S 1YH and operated a website www.harmanroyce.com

Between February 2012 and January 2013 the company sold 204,164 carbon credits to the public for investment for £1,288,704 generating a profit of at least £1,002,875. Investors were assured that the company ‘sourced carbon credits at the best price possible’ and that the market would ‘grow substantially’ and that by 2020 the credits would be worth £20 each. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £1.10 each and sold to investors for between £5.40 and £6.45 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Karlsson Chase Limited

company number 07874575, was incorporated on 8 December 2011.

The registered office throughout has been 5 Harbour Exchange Square, London, E14 9GE. The sole recorded director of the company has been Adam Philip Hawkins, initially from incorporation to 31 August 2012 and then re-appointed from 01 December 2012 to 19 June 2015. No successor director is shown to have been appointed. No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from 5 Harbour Exchange Square, London, E14 9GE and 23 Austin Friars, London, EC2N 2PR and operated a website www.karlssonchase.com

Between April 2012 and February 2013 the company sold 60,299 carbon credits to the public for investment for £443,893 generating a profit of at least £311,236. Investors were told that they ‘could not lose’. In respect of one project, credits available at 52 pence each were bought by the company for £1.75 each and sold to investors for between £6.25 and £6.50 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Liberty Alternative Investments Limited

company number 07915141, was incorporated on 18 January 2012 in the name Viridian Equity Ltd.

The name of the company was changed on 1 February 2012 to Liberty Carbon Investment Ltd and on 24 September 2012 changed to its present style. The registered office throughout has been 3 The Fountain Centre, Lensbury Avenue Imperial Wharf, London, SW6 2TW. The recorded directors of the company have been Michelle Blackwood from incorporation to 14 February 2012; Henry Richard Wallace Shaw from 14 February 2012 to 16 April 2013 and Michelle Blackwood-Maccow from 16 April 2013 to present date. Mrs Blackwood-Maccow is shown to have been company secretary throughout.

The company operated a website www.libertyalternativeinvestments.com

Between May 2012 and January 2013 the company sold 116,822 carbon credits to the public for investment for £701,512 generating a profit of at least of £374,411. Investors were promised ‘good’ returns within months. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £2.50 each and sold to investors for between £5.80 and £6.25 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is undetermined.

New Frontier Partnership Ltd

company number 07323673, was incorporated on 22 July 2010 in the name Raymead Consultants Ltd.

The name of the company was changed to its present style on 4 July 2011. The registered office throughout has been 9 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 9SR. The recorded directors of the company have been Graham William Manuel from incorporation to present date and Michael Paul Duff from 4 July 2011 to 12 October 2012. No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company operated a website www.newfrontierpartnership.com

Between November 2012 and January 2013, the company sold 14,012 carbon credits to the public for investment for £64,016 generating a profit of at least £31,789. Investors were promised ‘significant profits’ for example ‘double or triple money in one year’. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £2 each and sold to investors for between £4.30 and £4.78 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Oswald Bradshaw Limited

company number 07836589, was incorporated on 7 November 2011.

The registered office from incorporation to 14 May 2013 was 1 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7QD and from 14 May 2013 to present date 111 Rye House, 113 High Street, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 8JN. The recorded directors of the company have been John Oakes from incorporation to present date; Colby Frank Short from incorporation to 20 August 2012 and Sami Raja from incorporation to 31 January 2012. The company secretary from incorporation to 31 January 2012 is shown to be Mr Raja. No successor secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from 1 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7QD and operated a website www.oswaldbradshaw.com

Between December 2011 and January 2013 the company sold 75,311 carbon credits to the public for investment for £409,683 generating a profit of at least £296,717. Investors as the company’s ‘private clients’ were promised that credits could be made available to them at ‘well below market value’ and that they would then make significant gains as the carbon market was the fastest growing market in the world. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £1.20 each and sold to investors for between £4.87 and £4.94 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Pure Carbon Ltd

company number 07694165, was incorporated on 5 July 2011.

The registered office has been:

  • 145-157 St John Street, London, EC1V 4PW from incorporation to 18 May 2012
  • Level 17, Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street, London, EC2M 1QS from 18 May 2012 to 22 June 2012
  • 90 Brixton Hill, London, SW2 1QN from 22 June 2012 to present date

The sole recorded director throughout has been Steven Joseph Sulley. No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from 65-69 East Road, London, N1 6AH and operated a website www.pcarbon.co.uk

Between February 2012 and February 2013 the company sold 513,779 carbon credits to the public for investment for £3,191,054 generating a profit of at least £2,369,008. Investors were offered ‘market leading prices’ and that they would ‘make money’ by selling the credits to businesses investing in Brazil. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company for £1.90 each and sold to investors for between £5.75 and £7 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Seasaw Limited

company number 07743753, was incorporated on 17 August 2011.

The registered office of the company has been:

  • Nena House, Ground B, 77-79 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3HU from incorporation to 15 June 2012
  • International House, 1-6 Yarmouth Place, Mayfair, London, W1J 7BU from 15 June 2012 to 26 June 2012
  • International House, 1-6 Yarmouth Place, London, W1J 7BU from 26 June 2012 to 20 September 2012
  • c/o Rodliffe Accounting Ltd, 5th Floor (744-750) Salisbury, Finsbury Circus, London, EC2M 5QQ from 20 September to 4 January 2013
  • International House, 1-6 Yarmouth Place, Mayfair, London, W1J 7BU from 4 January 2013 to 22 October 2014
  • 16 Juniper Drive, London, SW18 1GH from 22 October 2014 to 16 January 2015
  • 16 Horizon House, Juniper Drive, London, SW18 1GH from 16 January 2015 to present date

The sole recorded director throughout has been Edward Jonathan Carlton. No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.

Between August 2011 and February 2013 the company received payments being the proceeds from the sale of carbon credits for investment to the public totalling £148,074.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

Strategic Carbon Solutions Ltd

company number 07795725, was incorporated on 3 October 2011.

The registered office throughout has been 145-157 St John Street, London, EC1V 4PW.

The sole recorded director of the company throughout has been Robert John Turner. No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.

The company traded from 66 New Street, 4th Floor, Birmingham, B2 4DU and operated a website www.strategiccarbonsolutions.com

Between November 2011 and January 2012 the company sold 82,830 carbon credits to the public for investment for £583,861. Investors were promised capital growth of 42 per cent a year as businesses in Brazil would subsequently buy them from investors. In respect of one project, credits available at 45 pence each were bought by the company (price unknown) and were sold to investors for between £5.75 and £7 each.

The full extent of the company’s business is presently undetermined.

The petitions to wind up the foregoing 19 companies were presented in the High Court on 27 April 2015 under the provisions of section 124A (and in the case of the overseas companies section 221(1) ) of the Insolvency Act 1986 following confidential enquiries carried out by Company Investigations under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.

The grounds for winding up the companies were their lack of commercial probity by participating in and benefitting from an objectionable scheme to sell VER carbon credits to the public as an investment opportunity.

Also presented in the High Court at the same time were petitions to wind up a further 10 companies on grounds of public interest and those petitions remain opposed (including in the case of Viceroy Jones Ltd, its restoration to the register) and are listed for trial in the High Court in early 2017. No further details regarding the action taken against those companies will be made available until the petitions against them have been determined by the Court.

The opposing 10 companies are:

  • Opus Capital Limited (company number 08380328)
  • Gemmax Solutions Limited (company number 07260486)
  • Opus Capital Investments Limited (company number 07768323)
  • Otium Ventures plc (company number 05874310)
  • Vaeron Finance Limited (company number 07241915)
  • Tocan Limited (company number 07662985)
  • Opus Clearing Limited (company number 07670885)
  • Gemmax Solutions Nominees Limited (company number 08481505)
  • Yarmouth Place Limited (company number 08331161)
  • Viceroy Jones Ltd (dissolved company number 0791260)

In ordering on 3 February 2016 these 19 companies into liquidation on grounds of public interest, Mr Registrar Briggs said:

… the companies have each been involved to some degree or other in a scheme to market and sell VER carbon credits to the public for investment … none of the companies appears today to defend the petitions … I am satisfied that the Secretary of State’s unopposed allegations are made out … the investigator Mr Peacock has in support produced an extensive witness statement and he exhibits the material relied upon … this shows that the credits were marketed and sold to the public at inflated prices … credits were sold at up to 28 times greater than the cost of the credits … false information was given and the public misled … in my judgement this absence of commercial probity by preying on individuals and depriving them in this way of their property requires me to order the companies into liquidation in the public interest … additionally in some instances accounts and annual returns have not been filed … in my judgement in order to protect the public from an immoral and considerable scheme to sell credits to the public at huge mark ups it is right that winding up orders are made and I do so order.

A carbon credit is a certificate or permit which represents the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) and can be traded for money. The Financial Conduct Authority’s consumer information on carbon credit trading and what to consider before investing can be found at: https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/carbon-credit-trading

The Financial Conduct Authority has published help for those most at risk of investment fraud: http://www.fca.org.uk/news/national-campaign-will-target-those-most-at-risk-of-investment-fraud

Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Further information about live company investigations 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.

By virtue of the appointment of the Official Receiver all public enquiries concerning the affairs of the companies should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit , 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT. Telephone: 0207 637 1110 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk

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