in Sierra Leone, UK

Capital Alternatives and Capital Carbon Credits taken to the High Court by the Financial Conduct Authority

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The UK Financial Conduct Authority has taken Capital Alternatives and several other firms to the High Court, accusing them of “promoting and/or operating collective investment schemes (CISs) in the UK illegally and without our authorisation”.

On its website, Capital Alternatives claims to be “The UK’s leading alternative investment promoters,” offering various products for sale, including palm oil, Australian wheat, Australian reforestation, gold, silver and platinum, memorabilia, and wine. The court action taken by the Financial Conduct Authority focusses on two investment schemes:

  • African Land (also known as Agri Capital) which offers investments in rice farm harvests in Sierra Leone, and is operated by African Land Limited.
  • Reforestation Projects (also known as Capital Carbon Credits) which offers investments in carbon credits generated from land in Sierra Leone, Brazil and Australia. It is operated by Reforestation Projects Limited.

The trial is to take place in Autumn 2013. In the meantime, the assets of the companies have been frozen. If the court decides that the investment schemes were run illegally, it can order the companies to pay compensation to investors. The Financial Conduct Authority however points out that,

you should be aware that, even if the court grants an order for investors to be compensated, we have found in similar cases that the defendants usually do not have enough assets or funds to pay the full amount ordered.

Capital Carbon Credits was founded in December 2010. The following month, a new director joined the company, calling himself Mark Eyres. In March 2013, investigative journalist Andrew Penman at The Mirror looked into Capital Carbon Credits under the headline “Danger: green investment from Capital Carbon Credits”. Penman discovered that while Eyres has an interesting background, it has little to do with carbon trading, forest conservation or climate change.

Eyres isn’t his real name. Mark Andrew Heaver joined the police after leaving school, but only lasted 18 months. In the early 1990s he worked as a security boss. In 1995, he was sentenced to 13 years for paying hit men to kill Michael Donovan, a boxing manager in Liverpool. The judge described the crime as of the “utmost gravity”.

After seven years, Heaver was released from prison. He changed his name to Mark Ayres and in 2005 set up a company called ITA Overseas Escorts. The company’s main work involved managing an £8 million contract from the Home Office to “remove and deport failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants from the UK”. Ayres’ CV included fabricated stories about reaching the rank of major after serving with the Royal Marines and the Special Boat Service. When ITA Overseas Escorts went into liquidation, the company had paid only £370 of a tax bill of £427,000, according to the Insolvency Service. In November 2010, he was banned from being a company director for six years.

Ayres changed his name to Eyres and became a director of Capital Carbon Credits in January 2011. He told Penman he had no idea that he’d been banned from being a company director and it was an admin error that his name appeared as “Eyres”. Capital Carbon Credits changed its name to Reforestation Projects Limited in February 2013.

Eyres was also director of another company called Climate Care Investments Limited. Eyres told Penman that his role was to ensure that Capital Carbon Credits’ project got carbon offset accreditation.

Capital Carbon Credits claimed to have 50,000 hectares of forest bordering the Gola Forest in Sierra Leone:

The Gola Forest is the largest area of closed canopy lowland rain forest remaining in Sierra Leone. As a result, it is a key region in which carbon credit generation is likely.

A company called Climate Care Global was Capital Carbon Credits’ “accreditation partner”. Mark Gibbs, the director of Climate Care Global was also a director of Reforestation Projects Limited (as Capital Carbon Credits is now called). Climate Care Global’s website no longer exists, but Capital Carbon Credits made up a story about the company being a “leading project developer”:

Climate Care Global is one of the leading project developers in sourcing and developing Certified Emission Reduction (CER) projects credits through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) applied to emission reduction projects in developing countries which deliver real and measurable emission reductions.

The company’s website explains that the company was offering a series of one hectare plots of land for sale with sub-leases for 45 years. “Once 80% of the total leased area has been sub-leased, the individual plots will be legally registered; this has no impact on the granting of the Carbon Credits.” Hardly reassuring, is it?
 


PHOTO Credit: Mark Ayres giving a talk to staff at Capital Carbon Credits.
 

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102 Comments

  1. So Eyore gets 13 years for a heinous crime. When he gets out he fabricates his CV and wins a major contract from the Government. And the company folds without paying tax. And the Insolvency Service bans him from being a director for the mind boggling period of 6 months (which he ignores anyway). Doesn’t fill you with confidence in the Justice system.

  2. These people pay scant regard to the consequences of their illegal business activity.
    They will continue to damage London’s reputation as a financial centre as long as the prospects of prosecution are minimal and the authorities turn a blind eye to clever scams such as Capital Alternatives and MH Carbon have initiated.

  3. I’m glad I managed to get a refund from Capital Alternatives. It took about 7 months of phoning them frequently. They said 4-6 weeks.When they wanted my money for an investment they wanted it a lot faster.

  4. Did you know this……

    “Capital Alternatives has been corresponding with the FSA, and subsequently the FCA, for over 3 years in relation to the products which it has promoted in order to assist the regulator with its enquiries. Despite the positive guidance previously received from the FSA, the FCA now appears to be taking a different view. Capital Alternatives will defend its position vigorously at the High Court hearing listed for October. In the meantime it will continue to carry on business as usual.”

    I know this to be a fact because I have seen the documentation they have advised Capital Alternatives to provide to Investors before they commit monies. I also know as an absolute fact, Capital Alternatives were rigorous in sticking to this advice.

    FCA should be honest and not try to be retrospective through the courts because it’s behind the “eight ball”! How can the FSA work with a company, the company complies, the FSA changes it’s name and then suddenly it’s “game on”. Why? To me that is unethical and bad for business all round.

  5. Presumably the court will determine if Capital Alternatives followed advice given by the authorities in respect of whether they were or were not illegally operating a Collective Investment Scheme (CIS). Convictions for fraud are notoriously difficult to get, so if the Crown Prosecution uses other charges (such as money laundering or running a CIS without authorisation) to secure a conviction why would we have a problem with that?
    Can’t see how they can carry on trading if their assets have been frozen?

  6. I have been trying to make contact with the company Capital Alternatives only to get a dead line. I have only invested in the last two years, to me is a large sum of money is Capital Alternative schemes, of which they have advised that I need too move some due to bad feedback but always with a sting that they would like more money (alarms should have rung at this stage). I would just like to know if the documents I have actually mean anything? If the business had been frozen how was it they still was able to offer the units for sale?
    If anybody from Capital Alternatives is working and sees this please call.

  7. Here’s a report about the court case: “FCA kicks off High Court battle against unregulated schemes”.

    The FCA questioned whether investors in African Land were getting pooled payments based on the plots of land they had individually invested in. The regulator also argued that the investment violated its ‘perimeter guidance’ because the farms being harvested were being managed as a whole.

    Deputy High Court judge Nicholas Strauss asked the FCA: ‘How is this different from a block of flats or a hotel where you lease individual rooms?’

    The FCA responded: ‘We say that the collective elements when you look at the expenditure is very considerable; construction, draining, roads, bridges, growing and irrigation and so forth. It would be curious if one could avoid the matter being a collective investment scheme simply by dividing up in different units.’

    However the counsel for the defence, barrister Andrew Green of Blackstone Chambers, argued that investors in African Land received payouts which matched the value of the crops harvested from the plot of land they owned.

    ‘The position is [that] what every investor receives is reparable to what is produced by their plot and nothing else,’ he said.

    He said that the scheme was intentionally set up to up to fall outside of the FCA’s regulatory regime.

  8. More on the court case here: “FCA grilled over grounds for unregulated scheme battle”.

    Under cross-examination from the counsel for the defence, FCA lead investigator John Thorpe admitted that the regulator’s battle with African Land was based on an video about the scheme and analysis of its bank account.

    He said the bank account suggested that the scheme was run as a collective as assets looked to be pooled.

    ‘Because there was no individual accounts from investor to investor that I could see, they [payments] were all coming from one account,’ he said.

    He added that proof of pooling assets went further than pooling the money and argued he had seen no evidence that the rice harvested from each plot was sold separately.

    He said that if a plot was harvested the results of that specific plot did not correspond directly to the profits if combined with the harvest of other plots.

    The cross-examination revealed that the regulator was invited to Sierra Leone to see how scheme worked, but rejected the offer, and also declined to review analysis of the scheme carried about GMX Consulting.

    Defence barrister Andrew Green of Blackstone Chambers said to Thorpe: ‘With a great deal of respect, you’re the head investigator in relation to the investigation in relation to African Land, we have a preliminary issue on which livelihoods depend. Surely you have taken the [step] to find out what the state of the evidence is?’

    Thorpe said that for the last six weeks he had been working on another High Court case for the regulator.

    ‘My mind hasn’t been on this case and I haven’t looked at any other evidence in that time,’ he said.

  9. It is fairly obvious that the FCA, CIB, DTI (as was), and the banks in general have been given a remit to shut down almost all alternative investment schemes; probably due to the government wishing to create a raft of cash in the high street banks as the UK simply cannot afford another bail out. The problem is… they have taken a broad strokes view and simply just tarred everyone with the same brush. There are a few legal issues to examine:

    1. Is the entire plot legally sub-divided in Africa?
    2. Does the investor have separate legal title to his plot of land in his own name, or can he register it as such if he so wishes?
    3. Is it registered at the Land Registry in Sierra Leone as an individual plot?

    If, the answer to these questions is YES, then surely the investor has purchased a plot of land and it is NOT a CIS, end of story! If he then decides to enter into a contractual arrangement with a group of people who sow and pick crops, who are the UK authorities to say NO you are not allowed to? Its Nanny-State all over again.

    However, the interesting issue would be if the investor decided to fence his plot, or basically if he decided NOT to participate in the scheme, would he be allowed? It is fairly obvious from a logistics point of view, that the grains of rice sold that produce an income for the investor are not from his actual plot, but are taken as an aggregate average of the entire plot pro rata to his holding. But then almost every apartment block in the UK share common part electricity, security and outside cleaning costs, these are pooled and contributions shared! You CANNOT contract out, are all of these a CIS? Taking it a logical step further, every member of every company in the UK no matter how small, contributes to the share capital of his company, sometimes there are four of five shareholders in a small business, the company cannot survive with this input, are all of these CIS?

  10. Dear All,

    We represent investors who have invested in Capital Alternatives and other associated companies. We note that comments on this page indicate that other investors are looking for ways to try and secure redress for their loss of investment; as we are already involved in this case and have a good background knowledge, we welcome investors to approach us to discuss any possible options which may see a return of their investment (if at all).

    Please contact me to discuss further:

    Direct dial: 01384 889906
    Email: tobias.haynes@regulatorylegal.co.uk

    I look forward to assisting where possible.

    Kindest regards

    Tobias Haynes

    Paralegal

    Regulatory Legal Solicitors

  11. As an unfortunate duped investor in Capital Alternative Investments I would be very grateful to receive up to date info. re present situation.
    Yours
    John Lockie

  12. Many thanks for the great update Court Watcher.
    Yesterday something new came to light for me an investment I placed and was issued a certificate for was became another hoax in that Capital Alternatives did not forward the funds in December.
    Capital Alternatives contacted me in June to point out the Investment was not good and there would be problems in getting any pay out, they recommended Palm oil of which I believe is one of their false money makers.
    This came to light when the company was chasing for the original money and to give an update on future investments.
    This company is now investigating all Capital Alternatives customers,

  13. Is this court case still ongoing? Are Capital Alternative’s assets still frozen?

  14. Has anybody had any contact with Capital Alternatives?
    Has anybody seen any returns on their investments?
    Is there any update to court case?

  15. Does anybody know anything about a company called Plantation Asset Management Limited with whom I have invested and who have a ‘Palm Oil Project’ and whose ‘primary promoters’ are Capital Alternatives Limited? I’ve received an undated letter from PAML, which arrived on the 31st Jan 2014, which informs me that PAML’s bank accounts have ‘been closed by the banks’ as a result of the FCA action, but that that ‘new accounts are being opened, but this may take some time’! Beyond that, absolutely no information is provided as to the state of my investment. PAML seems unwilling to answer any telephone calls. Any thoughts from anyone?

  16. Simon – Plantation Asset Managers has a director named Robert Ross White. White is also a director of Pelmet Trustees, along with Renwick Haddow, who is the founder director of Capital Alternatives.

    Looks like Plantation Asset Managers is another part of the same big picture. I’d expect the same sort of MO and the same sort of difficulties for investors.

  17. Simon, check your contract and any certificates that you received for the Palm Oil. There is a lot of talk in the brochure about Plantation Asset Management Ltd (PAM) leading you to believe that it is they with whom you were transacting, but when you read the small print you will find that you were actually transacting with a company called Plantation Asset Management Property Ltd (PAMP). PAM is listed as ‘the promoter’ whereas PAMP allegedly holds the lease on the land and was sub-letting part of that land to you.
    PAMP was put into liquidation and dissolved at the end of November 2013. Nobody was paying attention to PAMP because they thought that their contract was with PAM.
    PAMP did not submit an Annual Return or any annual accounts so nobody knows how much money was paid to it or where it is now. The FCA have been informed of PAMP’s dissolution. It is hoped that the FCA had already acted to protect investors because they were aware of issues with this Palm Oil project.
    Around April 2013 there was a dispute between African Land (the rice project) and Capital Alternatives during which Capital Alternatives persuaded a lot of African Land investors to switch to Palm Oil. There is a question mark over whether or not those transfers were legitimate. You should write to the FCA to ask for clarification on the PAM and PAMP situation and for guidance on the African Land position if you were one of those investors who transferred.
    In my opinion it is unlikely that you ever owned a sub-lease on any Palm Oil land. Now that PAMP has been dissolved it is essential to understand your legal position because you paid for a sub-lease which is of course subservient to the main head lease. If the company that owns the head lease has ceased to exist then the landowner is perfectly entitled to cancel that lease which would make your sub-lease null and void.
    I expect the letter you received from PAM was neither dated nor signed, and that the registered office address is a virtual office in London.
    Some of the Capital Alternatives people have relocated to Dubai out of the reach of the FCA. Watch out for “Water Bonds” and diamonds. The people involved have links to Renwick Haddow, Capital Alternatives Ltd and Capital Carbon Credits Ltd.

  18. An interesting development.
    PAMP was dissolved on 29th Nov 2013. Now a new PAMP has been formed on 31st Jan 2014. Exactly the same name, Plantation Asset Management Property, with the same director, Martin Ashton, date of birth 02/04/1952.
    Don’t be fooled into thinking that investors are back to the original position. The Palm Oil contract states the company number of PAMP as being 8047580. That’s the company that is party to the head lease AND the sub-lease agreements and it no longer exists. Legally the new PAMP (company number 8871825) has no liability to the creditors of the old company. Also, the new company has no right to inherit the lease from the dissolved PAMP. This is not a new phenomenon as there have been many cases of directors closing down a company only to open a new one with virtually the same name to avoid paying the debts of the old company. In this case the old one was PAMP Limited. The new one is PAMP Ltd.
    This is still a matter for the FCA to investigate.

  19. I invested 9000.00 Pounds Sterling with Capital Alternatives to buy half a hectare in Gippsland,Australia for reforestation. In their brochure Capital Alternatives stated that the investment was guaranteed by the Australian Government for a minimum of Investment plus 30% at the end of 5 years. Has anybody managed to contact the Australian Government to ascertain whether this was agreed with CapitalAlternatives ? Also, does anybody have any proof as to whether the trees were actually planted. I’ve contacted CITOLA who were named as the ground management company only to be told that CITOLA have cancelled their contractwith CARBON CREDIT/REFORESTATION PROJECTS due to “issues” between the two companies. I have not been able to contact anyone in Capital Alternatives or Reforestation Projects.

  20. Bob, it would be worth asking Citola if they repaid any of the £570,000 pounds sterling they were paid by Capital Alternatives / Capital Secretarial / Capital Carbon Credits. The court was told that this sum had been paid to Citola. Of course there are several ‘Citola’ companies so it wasn’t clear which of them the money went to and for what. It makes you wonder what service Citola provided that justified the huge sum of £570,000 being paid to them. Call me a cynic but Christopher Macnee of Citola has an association with Renwick Haddow of Capital Alternatives which goes back many years to the old Arc Fund Management days (AFM is another company being investigated by the FCA). I wonder if the whole reforestation project wasn’t just a way to channel money to Citola using front companies. The front company then goes into liquidation leaving the investors with no recourse.
    On that subject, Reforestation Projects Ltd is currently in the process of being liquidated.

  21. The verdict of the High Court this morning was that the Capital Carbon Credits Ltd carbon credit project and the African Land rice project, both in Sierra Leone, “are, and have always been, collective investment schemes under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000”. It is unlawful for an unregulated body to promote a CIS. Neither Capital Carbon Credits Ltd, African Land Ltd, Capital Alternatives Ltd nor the other defendants were authorised to promote these projects. The defendants claimed that the projects were not Collective Investment Schemes.
    Some of the defendants have appealed some aspects of the verdict so the case will go to appeal.
    The claim made by the FCA was separated into two questions. The first was whether or not the projects were CIS. The FCA have won that case. The second question of whether or not misleading statements were made in connection with the promotion of the projects, as is alleged by the FCA, is still open for determination.

  22. Thanks for the information. I will follow up CITOLA regarding the monies paid to them by CAPITAL ALTERNATIVES etc.

    With regard to whether or not misleading statements were made in connection with promoting their products, they certainly did. I have literature stating that the Australian reforestation project was guaranteed by the Australian Government to the tune of return of premium plus 30% after a five year period. They called it their Option 2. With regard to the liquidation of Reforestation Projects Ltd, do I have to register a claim against this company and if so how do I do it please?

  23. Bob, you have three months to object to the dissolution once it has been advertised in the London Gazette. It hasn’t been advertised yet. You can keep track on it here http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk//wcframe?name=accessCompanyInfo
    You would have to show Companies House that you are owed money by the company and that you are attempting to get it from them. There is no need to take any action for a couple of months because the FCA will probably contact Companies House to stop the liquidation. It only needs one person to stop it. Just keep your eye on the company.
    It would be worth contacting the financial regulator in Australia. One of the Citola companies is regulated so you may be able to ask the regulator to investigate.
    Watch out for http://www.platinumcommodities.com . The FCA intervention has resulted in new companies being formed and new locations. They are now operating out of Dubai (along with a diamond selling operation out of London) You will note the Water Bonds Plc project owned by Christopher Macnee of Citola is also being promoted by them). Same people, same networks, different companies.

  24. Thank you Court Watcher for the invaluable information. Following your advice, I have re-contacted Chris McNee of CITOLA asking them if they have planted and maintained the Coondarra CFI Reforestation Project at Gippsland or whether they have repaid the 570,000 Pounds Sterling to Capital Alternatives as you suggested. I await a reply from Chris McNee.

  25. I have had an Email reply from Chris McNee of CITOLA regarding the reforestation project at Gippsland Australia wherein he confirms that the Coondarra CFI Reforestation Project was planted in 2013 according to contract, and a report & photographs were sent to FCA. Therefore, I would assume that this plantation would fall into the assets of Reforestation Projects Ltd &/or Capital Alternatives Ltd ? It is now to be ascertained whether the plantation is being maintained,do you have any information on this ?

  26. I doubt the plantation is an asset of either Reforestation Projects Ltd (RF) or Capital Alternatives (CA). Here’s an extract from the brochure:
    “Capital Carbon Credits (RF) has partnered as the exclusive authorised promoters with our Preferred Project Developer in Australia – to provide investors a clear and simple way to invest in a new bio-diverse woodland project that will be fully compliant with the CFI, and will produce carbon credits”…. “The Landholding company will licence its 320 hectares of approved land located in the Gippsland region of Victoria in 1/2 hectare Plots(s) to Investors”….”Our preferred Project Developer , one of the leaders in biodiverse woodland development in Australia, will manage the project – from seedling propagation, planting, care,
    maintenance and monitoring of the woodland through to accreditation and the issue of tradable carbon credits”.
    RF appears to be positioning itself as “the promoter”, but CA was the marketing company i.e the real promoter.
    In my opinion RF was just a front to hide the involvement of two of the defendants and their friend(s). Many CA projects that looked independent can be traced back to the same two people, both of which have had a long association with the director of an australian forestry company.
    The brochure later makes it clear that the Preferred Project Developer is Citola Resources Pty Ltd (CRP) and that the Landowner is Forestry Land Resources Pty (FLR). It also mentions that FLR is a subsidiary of CRP. In other words, CRP and FLR are to all intents and purposes one and the same. So the land was owned and was to also be managed by the same people. I suspect that they are/were the real asset owners. You should go back to Chris Macnee for clarification on the asset situation because he should know.
    We know that 50% commissions were paid to CA on this project so it must have been sanctioned by people at CRP and FLR. It doesn’t say much for the true value of the land that was being sold. It is quite possible that the land has been planted out but that isn’t really relevant. The FCA would probably be more interested in the structure of the investment. The brochure made it look as if RF was the driving force behind the project but when the landowner and the project developer turn out to be the same people I know which group I believe really owned the project. I’ll bet that RF have never been to the land.
    The question is why would CRP/FLR not want it to be seen as their project and why would CA not want to be seen as the Promoter? RF’s role appears to be unnecessary. I feel the reason for RF’s involvement may have been answered in the posts above.
    Sooner or later somebody will break ranks and tell investors the truth. I expect it will be someone who got the least from the deal but is likely to face the severest penalty. Time for someone to come clean. I hope they do it soon because I reckon there’s only room for one on the lifeboat.

  27. Bob, did you get a clear reply to the question of the £570,000 from Chris Macnee ? I note that you didn’t mention that so maybe Mr Macnee didn’t give you a clear answer. I think you should also write to the Australian financial regulator about the Citola group of companies. Refer them to the UK FCA judgement and ask them to investigate the role of Citola and FLR in this project. It is possible that you may be able to get them to investigate on your behalf.

  28. Court Watcher – Thank you for your previous comments.
    I had recently thought that Reforestation Projects was redundant to the scheme but assumed that they had an Australian office to oversee the project. Obviously, if there were deeper ties between CITOLA and CAPITAL ALTERNATIVES this would not be necessary.Chris McNee only mentioned that the plantation had been planted, he did not mention the 570,000 Pounds paid to his Company by CA. However, to be Devils Advocate for a minute, if the land is owned by CITOLA or one of its subsidiaries this money could possibly have been paid on behalf of the investors to put the allocated plots in the investors name as per the Certificates we received. Along with the accumulated information I now have I very much doubt it however.
    I suppose we will have to find out as to whether the plots have been registered properly in our names and whether the plantation is being maintained.
    Lastly, I have just received a missive from FCA who confirms the High Court decision but mentions an appeal on certain aspects of the judgement. This appeal will have to be ruled upon before any monetary recompense can be attempted. FCA will advise on the outcome as soon as possible.

  29. I confess to being confused over recent developments. Reforestation Projects haven’t submitted annual accounts or an annual return so seem content to let Companies House liquidate them. Neither RF nor Mark Ayres were represented at the trial and neither submitted a defence. The Judge refused to allow an appeal on his decision relating to the RF carbon credit projects in Brazil and Sierra Leone, but he has allowed an appeal for the RF Australian carbon project. So who appealed that verdict on the RF Australian project if it wasn’t RF ? Obviously Capital Alternatives, Capital Secretarial, Marcia Hargous, Renwick Haddow, Richard Henstock and so on have an interest because they were involved in the marketing, but weren’t they supposed to be outsiders ? Wasn’t it supposed to be RF’s project ? It looks more and more likely that RF doesn’t know very much about the project.
    I think it would be relatively easy to check with the Australian Land Registry whether the sub-leases have been lodged and whether investors are the owners. The sub-lease certificate is just a piece of paper that was probably signed by RF who don’t even own the land. Keep it as evidence but don’t put any faith in it.
    I think it should be left to the FCA and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission to take matters further because they have quite wide-ranging powers.
    Good luck to Bob and all investors. I’m off for a couple of months but will be following developments.

  30. As always, thank you for the new information. I Emailed Chris McNee of CITOLA 2 days ago, asking for confirmation that CITOLA or one of its subsidiaries owned the Australian land in question and if the 570,000 Pounds paid to them by CAPITAL ALTERNATIVES was used to purchase sub-leases for the investors. I also asked whether the sub-leases have been properly registered in the investors names, and whether the plantation was being properly maintained, and if so, by whom ?
    Usually, Chris McNee Emails me immediately but at the moment I am still waiting an answer. As previously opined, I think RF is not in the equation and probably formed as a blind alley.

  31. Reforestation Projects doesn’t have an an office in Australia because they don’t even have a real office in the UK. Their office address in the UK is a virtual office i.e a forwarding address.
    A solicitor in the UK who has been following this case has told investors that, in his opinion, the Judge’s comments will result in new prosecutions and prison sentences.
    Check out the comments of Andrew Penman, Daily Mirror, who wrote a brief editorial on the case.

  32. have been trying for weeks to contact Capital Carbon Credits to see if I can get a refund, all to no avail. Appears on the surface that I have lost my investment. Is this so? Can i go to some authority to find out what i can do ?

  33. CAPITAL ALTERNATIVES LTD – Australian Reforestation in Gippsland, Victoria.

    Following the High Court case raised by the FCA and the subsequent appeal against the High Court conviction by Capital Alternatives Ltd, I have received an Email from the CFI Administrator of Clean Energy Regulation Department in Australia which catagorically states: “CITOLA RESOURCES PTY Ltd is NOT a recognised offsets entity NOR a proponent of a reforestation project within the meaning of the CFI Act 2011 and has NOT been issued any Australian Carbon Credit units…..It is also important to note that the Australian Government does not provide any GUARANTEE that it will purchase Australian carbon credit units, or that it will make such a purchase at a particular price or that investor returns are guaranteed”.So much for CAPITAL ALTERNATIVES glossy sales brochures. How can they possibly appeal to the High Court that the guilty verdicts were unreasonable?

  34. I don’t know of any Australian CFI projects raising funds from retail investors in Australia. If they did it would be regulated by ASIC and they police the carbon side pretty well.

    Sounds like another UK boiler room scam.

  35. Hi Bob

    I think you should email the FCA with this information. It may show that Chris Macnee did not tell the truth when he gave his testimony to the court. He was presented as an expert witness, but it now appears his company is not as expert as they claim.

    The court case was split into 2. The first part was on Collective Investment schemes and that has delivered its verdict. The second part was the FCA claim that false and misleading statements were made to investors. That part was not considered by the judge and will be a separate trial. Your evidence is therefore important because it shows deception.

    Chris Macnee is STILL working with Capital Alternatives people, they are promoting water Bonds PLC – BEWARE we do not want to let Macnee do this again.

  36. I have already Emailed FCA with the entire Email that I received from the CFI Regulator at the Clean Energy
    Regulation Department in Australia. The CFI also said that they would be passing this information on to ASIC
    for further investigations.

    I never did receive a return Email from Chris McNee of
    CITOLA regarding the missing 570,00 Pounds Sterling

  37. hello Im warry that the investmen £10,000. on 2012 with capital carbon credicts ltd- in Africa Sierra Leona
    I havent hear from Mr Ben Fullbrook and the office is Sofia House,76-80 City RD London EC1Y 2BJ is this the same? Estercilia Mitchell

  38. A colleague of mine who lives near London went to Sophia House to check if any Capital Alternative employers were actually stationed there. He found the whole place wrapped in plastic with obviously nobody in the entire building. The birds have flown.

  39. Well done Bob – we must try and keep track of them. They are reinvented in Dubai under a new name of Platinum Commodities. On their new website rice is mentioned – The court says African Land cannot be promoted. If anyone can contact the authorities in Dubai that would be good.
    Lets hope the FCA are watching the birds………..

  40. Another interesting development with regard to Capital Alternatives Ltd reforestation project in Gippsland Australia. The Financial Broker in Spain from whom I purchased my half hectare for reforestation and who is equally devastated at the outcome of this project, has received an Email from Chris McNee of CITOLA RESOURCES PTY Ltd. Chris McNee still insists that the project was planted by his Company and that it will be turned over to Reforestation Projects Ltd as soon as monies due to CITOLA have been paid by CAPITAL ALTERNATIVES Ltd, even after it was pointed out to him that RPL is in the process of liquidation. That would be a bit tricky wouldn’t it ?
    He also refuses to acknowledge any receipt of the 570,000 Pounds Sterling CITOLA received. Lastly, I asked BARCLAYS BANK – London for a refund of my 9000.00 Pounds Sterling investment that I paid CAPITAL ALTERNATIVES Ltd in June 2012, only to be told that the account was CLOSED in November 2012. Obviously, there has never been any intention of repayment after the five year Option 2 had been reached.

  41. Bob – the account closed in 2012 – was that capital alternatives account could you confirm?

  42. Chris – my 9000.00 Pounds Sterling was paid into BARCLAYS BANK for the account of CAPITAL SECRETARIAL LIMITED on the 15th June 2012. Pete FANCY of BARCLAYS BANK in LONDON have informed my Bank that the account was closed in November 2012, and therefore, no monies can be refunded.
    Additionally, I have received a reply from Marcus Jafari of ASIC Australia who thinks it unlikely that any plots of land are registered to individual investors. He has given me a name of an Australian Government department for further inquiries which I will follow up. However, CITOLA RESOURCES PTY LTD still insist that they are maintaining the project and will pass it over to REFORESTATION PROJECTS LTD when outstanding invoices have been paid, even though, of course, RPL are going into liquidation.
    If that is the case, it is obvious that the plots are NOT in individual investors name I would think.

  43. If the plots are not in individual names – how can they possibly win an appeal. I do hope the FCA know this information. Also if RP Ltd go into liquidation how are they goings to appeal.

    I wonder if their strategy will be that the FCA case caused them to have to shut down?

  44. If Citola were an honest company they would be providing investors with full transparency now that Reforestation Projects Ltd have been found guilty. Neither RF nor any of its directors provided a defence to the charges brought by the FCA so they have no grounds for appeal. Citola and Macnee should produce the contract they signed with RF and inform ALL investors how much money was paid to them and how much they are claiming is owed by RF. Citola is keen to maintain the pretence that it was a RF project. They want RF to close down so that they can blame the project failure on RF and not be held to account themselves. It is quite clear from the investor contracts that Citola owns both the land and the company that was appointed as the management company. That means that they are the real project owners. RF was just a smokescreen put in place to be the scapegoat when things went wrong. As for Citola/Macnee’s refusal to comment on the fact that £570,000 was paid to them, it is a matter of public record from the court hearing in July 2013.
    It appears that Marcia Hargous tried to put Capital Secretarial into voluntary liquidation in March but somebody raised an objection and the liquidation has been stopped.

  45. Hi Chris, Well what do we do now? I think I’ve got as far as I can go with my limited means. I haven’t got a reply from the letter I sent to LAND VICTORIA LAND INFORMATION CENTRE – Victoria, regarding registration of our plots we bought in Gippsland. However, for some reason they didn’t have an Email address so I had to send it by snail mail on the 18th April so there may be still time for a reply.
    Is there anything I can do or do we now have to wait for the CAPITAL ALTERNATIVES LTD appeal to be heard. Personally, I think they only appealed to give them time to disappear. If they have opened up in Dubai can we alert the Dubai authorities whoever they are?

  46. Regarding the Capital Alternatives Ltd “Reforestation Project” in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, I am still trying to find out the EXACT address of the plantation. This is needed by the Australian authorities to ascertain who the plots are registered to. Is it CITOLA PTY LTD or REFORESTATION PROJECTS LTD
    or are the plots registered in the names of the investors who have already paid for the registrations?
    If anybody knows the exact address could they let me know and I can chase up the Australian authorities.

  47. Bob,
    The brochure states “Landholder refers to Forestry Land Resources Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the Project
    Developer”, and “Project Developer is Citola Resources Pty Ltd (135 991 927)of registered office at 61 Bull Street,Bendigo, Victoria, 3550, Australia”.
    All roads lead to Christopher Macnee and Angus Macnee. If they won’t tell you it might be worth contacting the Police and ask them to investigate. You paid for a lease on land and they haven’t given it to you. That is obtaining money by deception.
    The brochure also states that “Licenced Area refers to the 340 hectares of approved CFI Act land located in the Gippsland region of Australia”. That is quite specific i.e 340 hectares which are already ‘approved’.
    I suggest that you contact the FCA in the UK and ask them if they know the location of the land. I assume that they asked Citola to identify the land during their investigation.
    There is an appeal due to be heard in London before the end of the year. You can follow the appeal here http://casetracker.justice.gov.uk/listing_calendar/search.jsp by typing ‘Capital Alternatives’ in the search box.
    Unfortunately none of the people involved like to answer straightforward questions.

  48. Thanks Chris,
    I’ll try to follow it up with the Australian authorities.

  49. still trying to find them in Australia. Fed Govt dont seem to know or care if we find them

  50. Groan! This con is alive and well in Australia through the vehicle of Velvet Assets. I purchased some plots in December. Fortunately, my certificate was made out in the name of the already dissolved PAMP so the case will be simply one of fraud. Not surprisingly, I received a letter from PAM yesterday suggesting that the boys in Dubai would be contacting me shortly to convert my worthless shares into shares in an equally dodgy investment involving VOIP!

  51. This is a message for Bob and others who were trying to get info on Citola.

    Angus Mcknee (formerly of Citola) is trying to raise money for a new venture Rimbal.com.au.
    Rimbal Ltd is registered in the UK at W14 8SN and can also be seen on Seedra.com.
    Just a couple of links for you to follow, perhaps you could ask them where the thousands they got as Citola has disappeared to!?
    I reckon they might have teamed up with Hargous in Australia.
    Bon chance

  52. Duped

    The last time I sent an Email to Chris McNee I asked him where the 570,000 Pounds Sterling that he admitted in Court he was paid went…..No reply….surprising !

  53. These guys don’t answer questions but they are continuing to con investors!!!
    Agri Firma (same bunch) has gone into liquidation forgetting to mention to the liquidator they have any investors. I wonder will Plantation Asset Management be next.
    Only a small thing BUT we need to watch for ALL these closures – Heaven for these crooks is closing down and retiring on our money.

  54. The FCA website, gives the date for the next court hearing for the appeal by Capital Alternatives as 17th January 2015. Lets hope they don’t postpone it.

  55. @Bob Gaston
    1. Could you please advise FCA’s email ID (with any specific reference number or ID) so that I could also contact them?
    2. I am based in Australia and wondering if I could be of any help?

  56. Hi YT,
    It could be useful if you are based in Australia as I have been trying to find out the EXACT address of the plantation. All I’ve got is GIPPSLAND, Victoria and that’s not exact enough for the Australian authorities evidently. Australian contacts I’ve found are:-
    Marcus.Jafari@asic.gov.au Marcus Jafari is a Senior Lawyer in the Financial Services Enforcement
    Tel: +61 2 9911 5357
    Mary-Anne Wilson – General Manager Clean Energy Regulator – Tel: 1300 553 542
    and the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure – Land Victoria – Chris McRae. Their Ref: ZK14/007103 – Tel: +61 3 8636 2213.

    The FCA in London: Email: consumer.queries@fca.co.uk
    The contact there is M/s. Nicola Grady who passes on messages to the relevant department. Tel: +44 20 7066 1000. Web: http://www.fca.org.uk. Case No. 202030749.
    However, they don’t appear to have the investors money as their first priority. They seem to be more interested in Capital Alternatives contravening the Financial stipulations.

    Basically, I’m pretty sure that the Plot Titles are in the name of CITOLA RESOURCES PTY in Australia who were originally responsible for planting and maintaining the project. Citola admitted in High Court that they were paid 570,000 Pounds Sterling and should have registered the Plots in the investors names as we paid for that service. Chris MacNee of Citola is hand in glove with Capital Alternatives Ltd.

  57. I am here again, amazingly the liquidators of Agri Firma tell me only 2 investors have come forward.
    Henstock was acting as a director for the con men above.
    The FCA are not interested, although Henstock was the sole director of Capital Alternatives and Agri Firma.
    Can anyone in Australia help with the Agri Firma wheat project?
    NOT a penny went into the wheat investment and investors are NOT staking their claim.
    BEWARE and watch the other companies like plantation asset management will be filing for liquidation and if you don’t try and fight your money will be gone.
    Congrats to all on this blog fighting, we are in the minority but at least we are trying……..

  58. PAMP(Plantation Asset Management Properties Limited- Company Number 08047580) was mistakenly dissolved but immediately reinstated when it was discovered as PAMP(Plantation Asset Management Ltd- Company Number 08871825).

    There has been no fraud, but PAMP are experiencing a delay with delivering returns to clients. The delay currently does not affect your investment directly as your returns are not due until the end of this year. However, as they are unsure exactly when the delay will be rectified, PAMP are making available an option to exit the project should investors want to.

    The above is what Velvet Assets had to say about PAMP. Did PAMP actually get reinstated?

  59. Highly suspect on VA/ CA credentials. Reasons are manifold (Australian Chapter).

    1. In the very early quarter of 2014, in response to one of the many queries (they didn’t even bother telling me the state beforehand) of mine regarding the delay in returns, I had been initially advised that the delay is due to an admin issue which will be sorted within weeks.
    2. After a month later, I had been advised with an ‘unprofessional’ PAM notification (it was not even a pdf but a jpg picture file) that due to this ongoing admin issue, PAM has been trying to change bank. And their intention is ‘to meet all payments in Jan 2014’.
    3. After this there was no communication from VA/ CA whatsoever, irrespective of reminders.
    4. By mid Feb 2014, FCA ruling was all over the place but still no communication from VA/ CA.
    5. Even a month later, the VA/ CA were still singing ‘don’t worry, be happy’ song. Utter disgrace.
    6. It is worth to mention that VA/ CA Management and VA/ CA Brokers (a.k.a. salesmen) were NOT on the same page at all. They all were literally avoiding backing each others’ statements. Epitome of team work and professionalism.
    7. After a month and two we all know what happened at VA/ CA. Although I still don’t know why it had had happened? Most Salesmen left due to personal reasons. Really!!! Highly doubted the authenticity.
    8 And since then we all are chasing our hard-earned money.
    9. Most recently Geoff Woodcock had left. No brownie points for guessing ‘personal reasons’.
    10. Since last year, everybody (promoters, product managers or developers) are passing the bucks, especially the promoters. In my humble opinion they are the ONE who MUST be prosecuted at-par for –

    a) Wilful blindness
    b) Misrepresentation
    c) Fraud by deceive

    @Conned – under these circumstances which are backed by evidences, my thought rational tells me that a fraud has been committed. Obviously, the promoters (with top of the line commission rates) or the product managers/ developers (with deep pockets by now) will think otherwise. Who knows they may have already started scamming other gullible as we speak.

  60. I have invested in the Australian company Capital Carbon – just spoke to the accountants for Citola – Citola no longer have any dealings with Capital Carbon as the did not meet their obligations – the land has now been sold by Citola to recover costs.Capital Carbon credits were offered the land but did not take it ..
    Angus Mc Nee seems the only other lead.
    Has anyone any further news?

  61. have sent an email to a Deon Reese, he rang me from London, UK and tried to get me to invest in a company dealing in VOIP.The conversation went for over 20 minutes.I said all I wanted was my money back, Deon then told me he would email me the details of who to contact in Australia,. that was over a week ago, and no reply yet and not holding my breath on one, but interesting

  62. @Alan, Can you remember the name of the company that called you from the UK with these VoIP solutions ?

  63. Anthony,

    Please refer to my comments starting February thro August 2014. CITOLA should not be able to sell the land as part of your investment should have gone towards Registration in the investors name when you made your initial investment. Check your invoice from Capital Secretarial. Also, I suppose CITOLA didn’t mention the 570,000 pounds paid to them by Capital Alternatives ? I spoke several times to Chris McNee of CITOLA and could get no specific answers

  64. @alan (Re. Deon Reece)
    1. Don’t be surprised if he won’t mail you ever.
    2. The good thing was that you didn’t invest in another beggars belief VOIP, but I am pretty sure that he would have had given you tons of excuses (you are not alone here, my dear friend).
    3. Are you based in Australia and what sort of projects you have had invested in (no need to give the value but only the project names like Rice or Palm Oil or Carbon Credits or Bio-Mass Bamboo)?
    4. Have you spoken to your broker on this – what are his thoughts?
    5. In Australia, Velvet Assets/ Capital Alternatives are based in Sydney, NSW. Let me know if you need more info about them?
    6. ASIC don’t care a thing on this (personal experience).
    7. I am quite surprised to see that Australian Investors are not sharing their experiences nor I have seen any news in Australian Media about this fraud. Perhaps I am missing something here?
    8. I’ve had been advised repetitively by these salesmen that almost all of their clientele (all over the world) have switched to VOIP. Another beggars belief which sounds too good to be true!!!

  65. Just because somebody says they are from Platinum Commodities doesn’t mean that they are. I had a call from Deon Reese (if that is even his real name) and I think he is not from Platinum Commodities at all and is just using the company’s name as a smokescreen so that when he runs off with our money we will go after the wrong people. He is either from Platinum Commodities Group or Sterling and Bond, but in either case both are crooked operations to take money off us. He sent me a brochure for this Voiptel rubbish and it didn’t have Platinum Commodities anywhere on it. It had the name of Sterling and Bond. A look at the website http://www.sterlingandbond.com showed the familiar look of Capital Alternatives. The usual four offices of the world, London, Dubai, Australia and Hong Kong. Of course the London office is just a telephone service and if you visit the office you will find that they aren’t there. I asked Deon if I could visit him at his office. It is shown as Floor 18, 40 Bank Street. He was very evasive. I called the receptionist at the building. She checked and then told me that there is no Platinum Commodities in the building. Sterling and Bond are mentioned in another blog on redd-monitor and are linked to Capital Alternatives through Victor Falade (a man who regularly lied through his teeth to me).
    I think the FCA have not stopped these people at all and they have regrouped to rip us off again. I found a couple of interesting facts. There is a company registered in BVI called Platinum Commodities Group Ltd and there is a domain name platinumgroupuae.net registered in May 2014 to MARK AYRES of Basingstoke.
    So we have Ayres and Falade working together again. It wouldn’t surprise me if Kristan Gander or Chris Rathbone or some of the other ex Capital Alternatives people are also involved.

  66. I emailed ASIC in Australia – a Marcus called me back – advised me NOT to buy into the Platinum Commodities Voiptel scheme as it was probably a scam – He said ASIC had closed down Velvet assets and they are attempting to close down PlatinumCommodities and take Legal and criminal action.
    Also got an email back from Financial Conduct Authority UK – Stephanie Winson advise against any further investment into this scheme as it was more than likely a scam and she was forwarding on my details to the Unauthorised Business Team to review.
    Also advised to contact Action Fraudwww.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
    YT if you have any info on VA or Capital Alternatives i would appreciate it .
    Anthony

  67. @Bob Gaston (Re. Chris McNee)
    1. Same here mate. Nothing constructive came out whilst dealing with Citola (Australia) other than that they had an Asset Management agreement with Capital Carbon Credits Ltd (UK) that was terminated in 2013 for a number of reasons including failure by Capital Carbon Credits Ltd to pay invoices. And the best part was that nobody bothered to update investors on this major development.
    2. I also concurred with your advise to Anthony (Re. the land has now been sold by Citola to recover cost).

  68. look at these coordinates on Google earth the image is dated 11/5/13.
    looks a bit sparse to me

  69. Do you really think Citola sold the land to recover costs ? I would want to see evidence that they actually owned it. They are probably making excuses hoping we will go away. I wouldn’t believe anything they say and would want to see evidence of when they bought the land, how much they paid, when it was sold and what costs did they incur over and above the large sum of money that they were paid.
    A google check on the Macnees shows that Christopher Macnee is running Water Bonds Plc, Angus Macnee has a company called Rimbal, and both of them together are involved with http://www.wimera.com/about.html . There’s no mention of Citola and the losses.

  70. @Marksie (Re. Deon Reese)
    1. Deon Reese contact details –
    Senior Trader
    Office: +44(0)845 867 5487
    deon.reese@platinumcommodities.com
    Platinum Commodities
    Level 18, 40 Bank Street
    E14 5NR, UK
    2. Feel free to share your experience should you (or anyone) wish to call then please ensure to cross check the level # and address, and the name of the person (and his company name) who will answer your call (or the person to whom it will be transferred). But please do not forget to share your experience.
    3. And, in case if you wish to email him then also please share your experience.

  71. @Anthony
    1. (Re. ASIC on VA) It is an interesting statement mate but I am afraid it is not correct. VA is still in the business but with skeleton staff minus Geoff Woodcock.
    2. (Re. ASIC on Platinum Commodities) ASIC do not have any judiciary/ regulatory power to close down this shop. Although they can influence and collaborate with FCA and lodge a court case but it will take donkey years.
    3. (Re. VA contact)
    Level 11, 100 William Street,
    Sydney NSW 2000
    1800 266 113
    +61 2 9356 8457
    +61 2 9331 2920
    4. Please feel free to share your experience (especially the VA contact name). All the best.

  72. @marksie (Re. Citola)
    1. Mate, as per my understanding, Citola was a Project Developer only. They were contracted by Capital Carbon Credits (CCC), UK (as what I said in my previous post) to develop and maintain the Asset.
    2. As per my humble understanding, we bought the lease on these plots from CCC. So until the expiry of the lease we are the owners of these plots so how come Citola could sell these plots without our knowledge and confirmation. Having said this, I am happy to be corrected here?

  73. 1. Just wondering whether anyone has ever been contacted by Plantation Asset Management (PAM) directly?
    2. If yes, could you please share your experience and especially the contact person’s name and his advise?
    3. And what his advise was?
    4. All inputs will be much appreciated.

  74. To me it’s obvious that CITOLA should not have been able to sell the land that we have all invested in as we have paid a percentage of our investment to register our individual plot(s)in our own names. Individually we can do very little without spending lots of money. A fact that I believe CA & Citola have no doubt counted on. I’m willing to band together to get to the bottom of this. Anybody willing to join me in getting local legal advice ?

  75. We don’t know whether Deon Reese is a genuine name and we don’t know who owns http://www.platinumcommodities.com because the website is registered anonymously. There is no Platinum Commodities in the UK. There is a Platinum Commodities company in Dubai but the Capital Alternatives people always try to copy company names that are very close to genuine company names, so we are none the wiser.
    40 Bank Street is a building that offers a convenience address. When I phoned I asked if Platinum Commodities had an office in the building and was told that they do not but the procedure is that if a call comes into reception they send an email to the company to let them know that there has been an enquiry. I asked for the name of the person on the email but was told that they couldn’t release it.
    I was also contacted by Lakewood Asset Management and told that they were transferring all of their business to Platinum Commodities. So I phoned the Lakewood Asset Management number 02075 599860 and got a nice lady called Ruth. She said that the building was in Hammersmith and she would get someone to call me back (another convenience office ?). I said that if I was to visit Lakewood which floor would I go to. That foxed her and she told me that she couldn’t give out that information and she also wouldn’t tell me the address of the building.
    So I hung up and phoned back 15 minutes later. This time the phone was answered by Holly but she was also equally guarded and wouldn’t tell me where the building was.
    Lakewood Asset Management is important because it is owned by another ex senior person from Capital Alternatives. His name is Wiehahn Gerber. There seems to be a lot of effort going into making it appear that Platinum Commodities has an office in London and is a genuine company. I will bet that any money paid to them will just disappear. Next time Deon Reese contacts me I will ask him to send me a copy of his driving licence or passport because I think it is a fake name.
    You don’t come across the name Deon very often, but I have now come across it twice. Wiehahn Gerber’s middle name is Deon.

  76. @YT,
    I also thought that Citola was a sub-contractor, but as has been pointed out in this blog, there is no doubt that they claimed to be the landowner and they owned the management company. This means that they owned and ran everything. CCC owned nothing. My foot is firmly in the camp that says the whole project was Citola’s and they put CCC in place as a cover. CCC was the sacrificial lamb so that Citola could point all of the blame at a company that was always going to close down.

  77. Should or shouldn’t I invest in Platinum Commodities backed VOIPTEL?

    Before making any decision please think on the followings –

    1. Does that investment opportunity makes sense (isn’t it too good to be true)?
    2. How good you know about that investment opportunity (and in particular the ‘risk’) and the firm behind it?
    3. Given the past experience with no returns, can you trust the same guys again?
    4. Whilst chasing your past guaranteed investment returns how many times have you heard from Velvet Assets/ Capital Alternatives that they are ‘only the promoters’, and they can’t do anything regarding your current situation?
    5. Are you prepared for the same kind of reaction from the very same guys who are currently pushing you for your money should your returns are not materialised from this new investment opportunity?
    6. How much investor savvy are you now? Do you know that these investment opportunities are not financial regulated (similar to your earlier investments)? Are you well aware of its ramifications?
    7. Have you sought an advice from a well qualified Financial Planner who is very well aware of your past/ present/ future circumstances?

    I hope by now you are able to make an educated decision regarding my question? Nonetheless, if you still have a question/ doubt please feel free to post here.

    PS. Just to be very clear that I am NOT offering any advice and am not an expert and happy to be corrected.

  78. Hi folks I am now joining you with my experiences. I have invested in wheat in Australia. I received a call from the so called Deon about 4 weeks ago and like you all say he doesn’t get back to you! So yesterday I sent 20 copy emails to him that got his attention. I have now been passed onto Andrew Clark who phoned me this evening. I ask the question about getting my money back,no chance there! Of course he offered to transfer some or all of my investment plus me paying an extra £3000 – £6000 for the amazing volptel (what ever it is called). He said that platinum commodities are a huge company. I did mentioned capital alternatives he seemed to steer away it. Glad I picked up on this forum.

  79. @ nicky
    1. Thanks for sharing. If they insist on VoIPTel please refer comment #85 and feel free to question them.
    2. Re. Deon. How did you come to know about Deon Reece? Did your broker tell you the reason why Deon is going to contact you and for what?
    3. Re. Andrew Clark. Interesting! Deon has got an assistance. Any takeaway from his conversation?
    4. Re. VoIPTel huge company. Same modus operandi. I am based in Australia and had been told the same lines that Capital Alternatives is huge company with global locations (London, Dubai, Sydney) and much more.

  80. @ marksie
    1. Re. Deon Reese. Sorry mate I should have clarified this before. Deon Reese is a South African and his real name is Weihahn Gerber. Were you able to ask him about his credentials?
    2. May I ask when did Wiehahn Gerber left CA? Was he located at UK office or Sydney office? Didn’t know that he is an ex-CA. Interesting!
    3. Have you contacted PAM? If yes, who did you speak with? Please feel free to share your experience with them.

  81. Gerber worked for CA in London office. Think Haddow set him up as Lakewood, first in London between 2 and 3 years ago when the FCA came sniffing.
    PAM have not filed accounts so Companies House keep trying to strike them off – Investors have temporarily stopped this.

  82. It is now January. I understand that the CA appeal is due to be heard in the High Court on 23 January. I doubt very much whether anybody from CA will turn up to the hearing as I firmly believe that CA only appealed to give themselves time to disappear. Does anybody know what is likely to happen after the hearing?

  83. Hi,
    Re Gerber and CA. I can confirm he was working for CA around late 2010, possibly earlier and apparently left around July 2011. He worked out of the sophia house offices in London. IIRC this was around the time that the Lakewood company appeared. I read an article somewhere a while back about Lakewood opening in south Africa.

  84. @Bob
    I believe the appeal is to commence on 27th or 28th January?
    Another similar case that I have been watching, had the verdict announced around 2 months after appeal. In this case, the defendants lost the appeal. The FCA is to seek compensation for investors, but the defendants are expected to further appeal, to the supreme court……
    We may have to wait and watch for some time unfortunately.
    I agree regarding the likely absence of some of the defendants! We shall see.

  85. @yt Deon Reece contacted me out of the blue. He said I should have received a letter from Africa Land regarding PC being appointed to take over from CA. I never received a letter so he sent me a copy. Re Andrew Clark he was pompous just wanted to push me to invest. He sent documents through but I never took the bait and have never heard from him since!

  86. @nicky, would you be able to send your letter to Chris Lang so that he can put the contents up on the blog (without your personal details), or could you post the text from the letter yourself and let us know who signed it ? I think it would be quite useful to see what they are saying.

  87. no not at all, still trying to contact but the phone either rings out or the service is cancelled. Guess i have to accept the fact that the money is lost

  88. @Cath
    I understand the appeal went ahead as planned at the end of January. It is not finished, and we await the verdict which may be another month or so away.
    @alan
    There is no point in trying the call the companies involved. They will be operating as different entities by now and scamming more individuals.

  89. Hi, late to this conversation but from reading all this looks like I can say goodbye to my investments with these guys. Is anyone having any success in getting anything out of anyone?? I foolishly invested all of my super with these schemes and I am at a loss as to what to do in trying to get anything back ( or if its even possible to try). Any feedback would be much appreciated.

  90. Bought 1/2 acre in Gippsland in 2013 any new developments?

  91. Re. Chris – I don’t think there are any developments Chris. Like you, I had also invested a fortune at Gippsland but I think its all gone by now.
    Would you mind sharing your experience with us such as who was your broker at CA/ VA and what sort of promises he had made and whether you are still in touch with your broker? If yes then what is his name and what sort of assurances or alternative investment opportunities have been offered to you from all corners such as PAM, CA/ VA, VoipTel, etc?

  92. Anyone with an update on mark Ayres/heaver got an updated this guy live for fraud so an and I got caught with this land scam. Info please?