A High Court has ordered the liquidation of 13 companies that raised more than £19 million selling investors carbon credits at exaggerated prices.
Sitting at the centre of the web was Eco-Synergies Limited, a wholesaler of Voluntary Emission Reduction carbon credits, which it supplied to other companies to in turn market to individual investors.
Using slick brochures, the companies convinced investors to purchase carbon credits at up to 869 times their original price, which tends to be around 65p per tonne of carbon emissions.
Eco-Synergies sold credits to the other companies at a mark-up, and told companies that they could themselves expect returns of more than 60 per cent, saying: 'You simply complete a trade and we do the rest.'
false and misleading statements
According to a statement from the Insolvency Service, Eco-Synergies initial shareholder Gavin Manerowski was also a director of MH Carbon Limited which, along with the other marketing companies, made false and misleading statements to the public to persuade them to invest in carbon credits.
Find out more on VER carbon credits and MH Carbon here.
The Insolvency Service adds that Manerowski, along with Richard Beese, David White and Jonathan Cocks, also established a non-trading company, Eco-Synergies Nominees Limited, to hold the credits purchased by the public on trust for investors.
In ordering the companies into liquidation on 1 May, Mr Registrar Jones says: '[Evidence] shows that the sale of the carbon credits by the 12 companies to which I refer are not suitable for investment.
'It is plain that the companies were trading VER carbon credits as investments which is wholly incorrect and misleading. Sales were made at excessive profit margins making investment unlikely to lead to a profit or to break even.'
The 13 companies included: Eco-Synergies Limited, Eco-Synergies Nominees Limited, Alternative Capital Limited, Beta Commodities Limited, Capital Acquisitions Limited, City Asset Partnership Limited, Cleartrade Limited, C T Carbon Limited, MH Carbon Limited, New Frontier Advisory Limited, Wealth Capital Limited, World Commodity Trading Limited and Worldwide Commodity Partners Limited.
Subscribe to Money Observer Magazine
Be the first to receive expert investment news and analysis of shares, funds, regions and strategies we expect to deliver top returns, plus free access to the digital issues on your desktop or via the Money Observer App.Subscribe now