Last month, three London-based companies were ordered into liquidation by the High Court. The three companies, World Future Ltd, Capital Wealth Ltd and Fourteenforty Ltd were selling carbon credits to the public, credits that “were wholly unsuitable for investment by the public”, according to a press release from the Insolvency Service.
The companies were ordered into liquidation in the public interest, following an investigation by Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service. World Future marketed the credits. Fourteenforty supplied the credits. Payments went to Capital Wealth. James Ward was the sole director of Capital Wealth, and one of the directors of World Future.
The Insolvency Service reports that,
The investigation found that investors received unsolicited phone calls and were misled as to the prospective investment value of the credits; for example they were told to expect returns of at least 25 per cent and in some cases as much as 50 per cent within a year.
The investors were also told that airlines would be buying carbon credits every time a plane took off and that investors would have to get in first to maximise returns. In addition they were told that their investment could be withdrawn at any time. All of these claims were false.
Company Investigations found that before selling carbon credits to the public, World Future jacked up the price by between 150% and nearly 250% of the price paid to its suppliers. World Future was set up in July 2011 and in its first 10 months managed to scam £2.5 million from the public for “near worthless carbon credits”.
Insolvency Service’s press release lists the following projects as generating these “near worthless” carbon credits:
- Hydro Power project in China,
- Wind Power project in India,
- REDD Reforestation project in Kenya,
- Forest Management project in Papua New Guinea,
- and a Biomass project in Thailand.
There’s an interesting discussion about World Future on the Love Money forum, here, featuring several people who were ripped off.
Andrew Penman and Nick Sommerlad, investigative journalists at the Daily Mirror, have written two articles featuring World Future. The first article, from September 2012, looks at the links between landbanking company Natural Wealth Consultants and World Future. The second article is about World Future going into liquidation.
The director of Natural Wealth Consultants, Eren Metcalfe, registered the World Future website. His partner, Hollie Chapman, was the founding director of World Future (a position she held for three months). Chapman is also the registered holder of the single issued £1 share in World Future. The registered address of the two companies is the same.
An investor who had spent £33,000 on carbon credits from World Future told Penman and Sommerlad:
“I was coldcalled. I informed them that I was not interested but they continued to call, many times, with a very persuasive argument about carbon credits being an excellent investment and one that many financial institutions were promoting and investing in heavily and I, to my eternal shame, caved in.
“They have now gone into voluntary liquidation, leaving me without any idea of the whereabouts of what I invested in or even if my credits are worth anything.”
The judge in the World Future case on 6 March 2013, was J. Gaunt QC, sitting as Deputy Judge. His comments should be mandatory reading for anyone considering investing their savings in carbon credits (and for the companies selling carbon credits as investments):
“… in a nutshell, the grounds alleged are that World Future was selling carbon credits as an investment and that Capital Wealth received money from World Future which was funneled into the pocket of Mr Ward. In respect of Fourteenforty, they were one of the suppliers of carbon credits to World Future which were then sold on to unsuspecting customers. The customers were entitled to assume what they were being told by World Future was correct. I have seen evidence that they were being told that the carbon credits were a suitable investment which would go up in price. The true position is that the credits were not a suitable investment at all as they were a wasting asset unlikely ever to be profitable.”