Carvier Limited: “3 million units available!!” from Brazil – the ethical alternative to carbon credits?

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Carvier Limited: 3 million units available!! from Brazil - the ethical alternative to carbon credits?

A company called Carvier Limited is advertising 3 million “Sustainability Credit Units” from an area of forest in Brazil. Predictably enough, REDD-Monitor had a few questions for Carvier Limited. And, perhaps just as predictably, Carvier Limited has so far not responded.

Here’s what we know so far about Carvier Limited and its “Sustainable Credit Units” from Brazil. Carvier Limited was incorporated in the UK in September 2011. The company describes itself as a “Carbon Reduction and Management Services Provider”. Barinua Nwikpo is the company director. Nwikpo is also director of another company called Tamar (London) Ltd.

On 30 March 2012, Tamar (London) Ltd was one of four companies that were “ordered into provisional liquidation by the High Court on public interest grounds” pending a court hearing on 29 June 2012. Courts appoint a provisional liquidator to avoid the risk that companies’ assets disappear before legal insolvency proceedings are completed.

The other three companies ordered into provisional liquidation were Johnnystone Limited, Brad Baker Limited and Tullett Brown. The director of Johnnystone Limited is John Nwikpo. The director of Brad Baker Limited is Bradley Ferry, who is also a director of Tullett Brown. Barinua, John and Daniel Nwikpo own a total of 74% shares in Tullett Brown.

Tullett Brown was a commodity trader, specialising in precious metals (gold and silver) and carbon trading. In March 2012, World Finance named Tullett Brown “Commodities Broker of the Year in Western Europe”. Simon Greenspan, a broker with Tullett Brown, accepted the award on behalf of Tullett Brown. Here’s what Greenspan had to say about carbon trading:

“It’s an area of the market that Tullett Brown, not only are we very excited about, we are very passionate about it. At Tullett Brown we’ve only ever invested in areas of the market that have truly stood the test of time, such as gold and silver and property. When our analysts were looking for the next great area of growth it was fairly obvious to them. It was the planet, it was the environment. The preservation of the planet allows us at Tullett Brown to give our clients what they truly seek, which is sustainable returns for many years to come.”

On 23 May 2012, I wrote to Carvier Limited. Chantel Koorts at Carvier Limited replied the same day explaining that,

“I forwarded this on to my Director for your response, he will be able to answer any question and provide any reports and documentation requested. However he is not due back till next Thursday.”

REDD-Monitor looks forward to his response. Meanwhile Koorts continues to post exciting looking offers, such as the following, on 29 May 2012, on LinkedIn:

Apart from the obvious question about the United Nations not yet “recognising” any REDD credits, because there is not yet an agreement at the UNFCCC about REDD, this raises more questions about Brasil Mata Viva and its Sustainability Credit Units.

Brasil Mata Viva describes itself as,

a Brazilian standard dedicated to valuing the rural landowner, so as to achieve its principal objective of harmonizing human activity by promoting the conservation of biodiversity, and incentivizing the rational use of natural resources, thus benefitting the citizens of today as well as future generations.

The company has produced a video, in which it describes the way that Brasil Mata Viva works as follows:

[F]irst, identifying the remaining forests in the selected areas, when the Carbon Level Storage is estimated in each property. This credit is turned into financial incentive for new technology used in manufactured products by the community in order to improve life’s conditions, to achieve the desired sustainability. There are two situations: the farmer is payed [sic] to take care of the native forest and its carbon storage, becoming its depositary just after receiving the fund. And the other situation is that the farmer get payed to recover the vegetation, producing new levels of carbon storage.

Which doesn’t make much sense to me either. The Brazil Mata Viva website includes a list of projects, but it’s difficult to work out what the standard actually is, how it is validated, who does the validation, what total area the projects cover and so on. REDD-Monitor looks forward to hearing more about this from Carvier, from Brasil Mata Viva and from anyone who can provide further information.

From: Chris Lang
Date: 23 May 2012 21:02
Subject: Some questions about the Brasil Mata Viva Program
To: Chantel Koorts, Carvier Limited

Dear Chantel,

Greetings from Jakarta! My name is Chris Lang and I work on a website called REDD-Monitor (www.redd-monitor.org).

I recently came across the Carvier website and would be grateful if you could answer a few questions about the forestry project in Brazil.

1. How many people does Carvier Limited employ?

2. Could you please describe the Brasil Mata Viva Program. What area is covered by the project(s)? Has a project design document been produced for any of the project areas? Is the document publicly available?

3. Could you please send me a copy of the “BMV Standard” referred to on your website (http://bit.ly/Kok07Y). What area of forest has been certified as complying to this standard? How many Sustainability Credit Units (UCS) have been generated so far? How many do you anticipate generating?

4. How much are selling each UCS for? How many have you sold so far?

5. Do you see a future in this sort of offsetting, given the fact that the price of carbon on the European Trading Scheme has crashed? If so, what future do you see?

6. Recently, the Financial Services Authority issued a warning about the dangers involved in buying carbon credits (http://bit.ly/mPQfNS). How does the public in the UK know that the carbon offsets (or UCS) that Carvier is selling are genuine?

7. On the Carvier webpage “UCS Generation” (http://bit.ly/Jn3t5v) it states that all UCS sustainability units are validated by UNESP, the University of Paulista, in Sao Paulo. Could you please provide more details about the validation process and provide a contact at UNESP that I could ask further about this.

8. The same page on Carvier’s website states that “TUV Reinland [sic] will verify all findings from previous studies undertaken on the project area”. Please provide more details about this verification process and a contact at TÜV Rheinland who could answer further questions about this.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on the record.

Regards, Chris Lang

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11 Comments

  1. Unbelievable, or then again not really. In the statement by Chantel on Linkedin she states the credits are recognised by the Untied Nations, perhaps this is quite different to the United Nations!! Awful, just awful.

  2. Why the Tullett Brown story didn’t appear in the Guardian until the company went bankrupt:

    The answer, in the case of Tullett Brown, is simple. The firm employed firms of lawyers to gag the Guardian and, subsequently, other media. One firm threatened a consumer website with “injunction proceedings” if it failed to remove a Tullett Brown story. A second threatened me (I’m a freelance journalist and former Money staffer) with personal libel proceedings for posting a warning on Twitter.

    Read the full story by Tony Levene here: “A green investment that turned hazardous“.

  3. Interesting to see that World Finance is sufficiently embarrassed to have removed all mention of Tullett Brown from its website:

  4. Hi, I am very interested to read your blog having this evening discovered that my “investment” of my pension lump sum is in jeopardy. For spome weeks/months at the end of last year I was receiving phonecalls from Bradley Baker of Tullett Brown and was persuaded to part with my hard earned money. Oh did he sound so genuine I now feel such a mug. We were sent all sorts of literature, had lengthy phone discussions and when I showed some doubt I was told “I can assure you Anne you are in safe hands with us”. I then wrote to them a few months ago to ask for the return of my money as I haqd a bad feeling about the whole thing and was phoned by a “colleague” of Brad’s who promised I would receive a cheque in 6 weeks. Needless to say no cheque was received. I will be declaring an interest in the liquidation and am just grateful I have discovered in time as the deadline is 29th June.
    Thanks for reading this.
    Anne

  5. @Anne Reid (#4) – Thanks for your comment. Obviously I’m very sorry to hear about this and hope you can get your money back. For anyone else that is in this position, please get in touch with the official receiver. The following note has been placed on Tullett Brown’s website:


    IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE (NO. 2781 OF 2012)

    RE: TULLETT BROWN LIMITED (IN PROVISIONAL LIQUDATION)

    On 30 March 2012, the Official Receiver was appointed Provisional Liquidator of the above named company on the application of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Secretary of State presented a petition to wind up the company on public interest grounds on 28 March 2012 and this is due to be heard in the High Court on 29 June 2012.

    Customers who have purchased or invested with the Company should send their full contact details and full details of their purchase/investment to the Official Receiver at the Insolvency Service, 21 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3SS or via email to piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk

    For further information click here
    http://www.insolvencydirect.bis.gov.uk/piudb/viewpiudata.asp?category=t

  6. Despite Tullett Brown being shut down, the Nwikpo brothers are still running TBs sister company Foxstone Carr, which is selling the exact same products as Tullett Brown!

    Chantel Koorts also used to work for Morgan Forbes (which has been featured in the Tony Hetherington column a couple of times), until it was ordered to stop trading shares illegally without FSA authorisation.

    Interestingly if you google Chantel Koorts you’ll also find a Sun article in which she’s referred to as ‘Bridezilla!’

  7. @Anonymous (#6) – Thanks for this. It’s also interesting to note that Simon Greenspan (ex-broker with Tullett Brown) is now CSR and Sustainability Consultant at Carvier (according to his LinkedIn account).

    I wonder whether Land Rover, Marks & Spencer and GlaxoSmithKline mind having their logos on Foxstone Carr’s website. The implication is that they have bought carbon credits from Foxstone Carr, although the website doesn’t actually say that.

    I did see the “Bridezilla” story, but decided that it wasn’t strictly relevant to the Carvier carbon trading story…

  8. Also Foxstone Carr are based in the same offices as Carvier and Tullett Brown.

    Tullett Brown, Carvier, and Foxstone Carr are all literally in rooms next door to each other on the 5th floor of 133 Houndsditch, and are all managed by the Nwikpo brothers who use Pseudonyms such as John Stone, Dan Fox and Barry Carr (Yes, these are names they actually use….)

    The 55 Broad Street address on the Foxstone Carr website is just a virtual office……

  9. I notice that Ben Lingham-Wood is now working for Carvier as ‘Senior Sustainability Consultant’. He is a renowned thief and con-artist. There are even reports about him on google. It all looks very dubious to me.

  10. An interesting debate is deveoping as to the real reasons why Tullett Brown was able to stay in business for so long, and why newspaper stories about it were allegedly suppressed. Private Eye has jumped in.
    http://boards.fool.co.uk/tullett-brown-land-banking-carbon-trading-12603342.aspx?sort=whole

  11. @Anonymous (#8) – Thanks for this. Tony Hetherington reports in the Daily Mail that Foxstone Carr has been shut down:

    Court shuts scam company I warned against

    By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 24 November 2012

    A carbon credit investment company linked to con artists I warned against in July has been shut down by the High Court. An investigation by the Insolvency Service found that Foxstone Carr falsely claimed the carbon credits market had grown by almost 60 per cent in a year and the investment opportunity was a ‘no brainer’.

    Investigator Chris Mayhew said: ‘The company fleeced the public with their bogus guarantees about investment opportunities and returns.’ It raked in more than £400,000 by selling carbon credits at a 245 per cent mark-up.

    In July, I warned that Barinua Carr Nwikpo, who had been involved in an earlier carbon credit scam called Tullett Brown, was behind an attempt to rip off more investors through a linked firm, Carvier Limited.

    Carvier and Foxstone Carr were based at the old Tullett Brown offices in the City of London. According to the Insolvency Service, Barinua Nwikpo handed control of Foxstone Carr to family members Daniel Nwikpo and John Ekpobari Nwikpo. Let’s hope all three are now in line for a ban on future directorships.

    Here’s the announcement from the Insolvency Service:

    Phoenix carbon credit company wound up for using same old tricks

    16 November 2012 13:00
    Insolvency Service

    Foxstone Carr Limited, a London company which markets carbon credits and precious metals to the public as investment opportunities, has been wound up in the High Court on grounds of public interest, for making misleading statements to attract potential customers. The court order follows an investigation by The Insolvency Service.

    Foxstone Carr Limited was initially based at the former trading address of Tullett Brown Limited (see note 7), which was itself wound up in June 2012, for similarly mis-selling investment opportunities to the public.

    More recently, Foxstone Carr Limited was based at 2nd Floor, 63 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 8PD. Its website (www.foxstonecarr.co.uk) was registered to Tullett Brown Limited.

    In addition, the company employed sales staff who previously worked for Tullett Brown Limited, who used the same cold-calling methods and raised over £400,000 from customers through the sale of carbon credits at a mark up of up to 245 per cent.

    The company claimed the market in carbon credits had grown by nearly 60 per cent in the past year and that the investment opportunity was a “no brainer” with “guaranteed returns”.

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

    “The company fleeced the public with their bogus guarantees about investment opportunities and returns.

    “The only return guaranteed was back to the High Court following the winding up of Tullett Brown.

    “The Service is determined to do all it can to protect the public from rogue companies as this judgement shows.

    “I would urge people cold called not to be pressured into something you are unsure of and to simply say ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to cold calling conmen promising instant riches”.

    Notes to Editors

    1. Foxstone Carr Limited was incorporated on 20 January 2010. The registered office of the company was Flat 3, 185 Stoke Newington High Street, London, N16 OLH until 8 September 2011 when it was changed to 55 Old Broad Street, London, EC2M 1RX, where it presently remains.

    2. The recorded directors were:
    - Barinua Carr Nwikpo (from 20 January 2010 to 31 August 2011),
    - Daniel Nwikpo (from 20 January 2010 to 13 June 2012),
    - John Ekpobari Nwikpo (from 20 January 2010 to 13 June 2012) and
    - Alfred Victor Brewster (from 13 June 2012 to present date)

    No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.

    3. The company’s issued and paid up share capital is shown to be £100 divided into 100 ordinary £1 shares initially held by Daniel Nwikpo (50 shares), John Nwikpo (49 shares) and Barinua Nwikpo (1 share). These 100 shares are all shown to have been transferred on 13 June 2012 to Alfred Brewster who remains the sole shareholder.
    - Daniel Nwikpo received at least £70,880,
    - John Nwikpo received some £5,983 and
    - John Nwikpo’s company Johnnystone Limited (now in liquidation) received around £44,900.

    4. The grounds for winding up the company were trading with a lack of commercial probity by making misleading and unfounded statements to induce potential investors to purchase carbon credits and its breach of the Companies Act 2006 and the Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008 by failing to display its registered name at its registered office.

    5. The petition to wind up the company was presented in the High Court on 13 September 2012 under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 following confidential enquiries carried out by Company Investigations under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended. The petition was unopposed.

    6. In ordering the company into liquidation on grounds of public interest on 14 November 2012 Mr Registrar Baister said:

    “Foxstone Carr was engaged in the sale of carbon credits to consumers. The principal allegation relates to the selling techniques and representations made to consumers. It is contended customers were misled as to the likely return on their investment and the period over which that return might be realised and they were led generally to believe they were buying an asset that was appropriate for investment. In fact it is contended that the credits were sold for an inflated price such that an unnatural increase in value would be needed for the consumer to break even.

    “Some might say this was simply a bad bargain. However, the missing information customers aren’t told is the considerable difficulty they face in disposing of the carbon credits. The usual cold calling methods are used to sell and to give the impression that the credits are likely to go up in value and can be traded easily. In fact this is not the case. Information has been obtained that the older the credit the less desirable they are and therefore the less valuable the credit becomes over time. This information is concealed from consumers.

    “Foxstone Carr is linked to other companies also concerned in the mis-selling of credits and the three gentlemen involved in those companies, Mr Daniel Nwikpo, Mr John Nwikpo and Mr Barinua Nwikpo are all directors of Foxstone Carr. On 30th March 2012 Mr Justice Sales ordered that a provisional liquidator be appointed in respect of those companies and they were subsequently wound up by order of Registrar Derrett on 27 June 2012.

    “The Petitioner’s allegation is that Foxstone Carr has similarly traded with a lack of commercial probity and this allegation is dealt with adequately in the circumstances of this case by what I have said already. There is concrete evidence of the sales methods being used lending support to the allegations made by the Secretary of State which are made out and warrant winding up the company in the public interest”.

    7. On 27 June 2012 a related company Tullett Brown Limited and its three connected companies were each ordered into liquidation on grounds of public interest – see news release issued on 29 June 2012: “Carbon credit company Tullett Brown Limited and related companies ordered into liquidation (Amended).” Click here for the full release.

    8. 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 Services Authority’s consumer information on carbon credit trading and what to consider before investing can be found at: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/consumerinformation/scamsandswindles/investment_scams/carbon_credit

    9. Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, carries out confidential enquiries on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (“BIS”).

    10. 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. The Service also 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.

    11. All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit , The Insolvency Service, 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT. Telephone: 0207 637 1110 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk

    12. You can now subscribe to get e-mail alerts from The Insolvency Service. To subscribe, go to our website http://www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency/news and you will see a button to “sign up for email alerts and newsletters”, or click on the link below and follow the instructions:
    https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKBIS/subscriber/new

    Carvier’s website is currently down:

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