In August 2013, REDD-Monitor wrote about a company called Baron Traders, a Gibraltar registered company that sold carbon credits as investments. Much of the post was based on a series of articles written in 2011 by Richard Smith on the Naked Capitalism website.
A little over one month after the post on REDD-Monitor, I received an email from James Richards, Director of Baron Traders. “Obviously this posting is now having a drastic and detrimental effect on our business both in terms of reputation and economy,” Richards wrote. Which is perhaps surprising, considering that Naked Capitalism is a far more popular website than REDD-Monitor, and the only two pieces of information I added to Smith’s series of articles were that James Richards’ company is now operating under the name Baron Traders instead of Verified Carbon Credits, and that on its website Baron Traders was suggesting an average price for CERs of €14.69 (bizarrely based on predictions of the price for 2013). When I wrote about Baron Traders, CERs were selling at €0.57 on the European Energy Exchange, and the price now is €0.62.
Here’s the email from James Richards:
From: James firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 19 September 2013 14:35
Subject: Redd Monitor
Dear Mr Lang
I am writing in regard to the following link http://www.redd-monitor.org/2013/08/16/baron-traders-ltd-another-scam-company-offering-carbon-credits-as-investments/ which was brought to our attention by a long standing business associate. Obviously this posting is now having a drastic and detrimental effect on our business both in terms of reputation and economy.
Under your Comments policy point 3 I can confirm there are a number of points which are extremely libellous and defamatory and would therefore ask that this link is removed ASAP
Should you require further clarification we are more than willing to provide what ever is required and have a telephone conversation
When James Richards commented on Richard Smith’s article on the Naked Capitalism website, Smith’s rigorous response came under the headline, “Moron from Scam Companies ‘Validated Carbon Credits’ and ‘Baron Traders Limited’ Threatens This Blog”.
Until now, I haven’t responded to Richards’ email. I don’t require “further clarification” – reading Baron Traders’ corporate brochure (pdf file, 725.1 KB) and website leaves little room for doubt that the company was at least attempting to sell carbon credits as investments, using a series of misleading statements.
Here, for example, is one of the misleading statements from Baron Traders’ brochure: “Market volumes and price forecasts for CERs are encouraging with significant growth expected between now and 2020.” This may have been true before the financial crisis started in 2008, but today it is pure fiction. A press release from Point Carbon, released a few months after Baron Traders’ brochure, predicts a fall in the price of CERs:
Thomson Reuters Point Carbon predicts sCER prices will average €1.6/t during phase 3 of the EU ETS, less than half its previous forecast. To 2014, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon predicts sCER prices will average €2.5/t, falling to €1/t in 2018 and 2019, and to 50 cents in 2020 due to the oversupply. The low price for sCERs may mean that investment in emission reduction projects under the CDM will dry up over the coming years.
In the disclaimer following his email to REDD-Monitor, Richards provides an email address for Baron Traders. But clicking on it brings up an email address for a company called Oakmount and Partners Ltd, whose website is “coming soon”. The website already includes the following warning:
Buying Investments can involve risk. The value of your Investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and is not guaranteed at any time.
You may get back less than you originally invested and in extreme circumstances, lose all of the value of your investment.
Meanwhile, Baron Traders has redesigned its website. No longer offering carbon credits as investments, the website announces that, “Currency Trading is the largest market in the world…”. I’ll leave you to make up your own mind up about whether this is another scam. “Minimum trade 10k – clients are accepted on a case-by-case basis.” Here’s a screenshot: