in Brazil, UK

Serious Fraud Office opens investigation into Global Forestry Investments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUpon

The Serious Fraud Office has opened a criminal investigation into “alleged fraud concerning Global Forestry Investments”. The company’s “ethical” investments in teak plantations in Brazil may not have been so ethical after all.

REDD-Monitor wrote about Global Forestry Investments in March 2014. The company, which is now in liquidation, was run by Andrew Skeene and Omari Bowers. GFI offered retail investors a chance to invest a minimum of £5,000 in the Belem Sky teak plantation in Brazil, promising returns of “10-20% per annum”.

Andrew Callen, a solicitor at Alisons Legal Practice in Wales, is acting on behalf of 80 people who handed over money to Global Forestry Investments. In September 2014, Callen told the News and Star that somewhere between £10 million and £20 million has been lost.

The SFO is also investigating another Skeene and Bowers company called Global Forex Investments.

The SFO is asking anyone who has handed money over to either Global Forestry Investments or Global Forex Investments to complete a questionnaire on the SFO website (click on the image to go to the questionnaire):

This week, the SFO carried out two search warrants in Hertfordshire, in the southeast of England.

A company called Emerald Knight marketed Global Forestry Investments’ plots of teak plantations. They assured retail investors of a “fixed 10% annual return”, with a return of “10-20% at thinning years”.

Emerald Knight’s website has disappeared, but here’s an archive.

While Global Forestry Investments was not regulated by the Financial Services Authority, Emerald Knight reassured potential investors that,

Your funds are held in a UK trustee Citadel who are FSA regulated http://www.citadeltrustees.com/

Citadel Trustees role with investors in Global Forestry Investments was later taken over by Title Trustees International. Both firms are subsidiaries of Hutchinson & Co. Trust Company Limited. You can read more about Citadel Trustees, here. In April 2014, the company changed its name to Highpoint Trustees.

Tony Hetherington at the Daily Mail first wrote about Citadel Trustees in March 2012. He recently asked Anna Rickard, a director at Highpoint Trustees, some questions about her company’s role. Rickard answered:

“We have already discussed matters with the FCA and do not feel we are able to comment any further.”

So much for Highpoint’s duty to check that investors are not being misled. Anna Rickard is also a director of a company called Global Forestry Investments Title Limited.

In the public interest, and just in case the Serious Fraud Office hasn’t seen any of these documents, here are REDD-Monitor’s files on Global Forestry Investments (click on the images to download the files):

GFI website (archive)

GFI website (archive)

Keyfacts_05_07.pdf

Keyfacts_05_07.pdf

GFI - Keyfacts.pdf

GFI – Keyfacts.pdf

MagazineAdApril

MagazineAdApril

GFI Invite.pdf

GFI Invite.pdf

GFIBrochure2010.pdf

GFIBrochure2010.pdf

GFIBrochure.pdf

GFIBrochure.pdf

GFIBrochure2010_230410.pdf

GFIBrochure2010_230410.pdf

GFIBrochure2010_030910.pdf

GFIBrochure2010_030910.pdf

GFIBrochure2010_150910_old.pdf

GFIBrochure2010_150910_old.pdf

GFIBrochure2010_150910.pdf

GFIBrochure2010_150910.pdf

If anyone has more documents from Global Forestry Investments, please send them to the Serious Fraud Office, via their website questionnaire (or send them to reddmonitor@gmail.com and I’ll upload them here).
 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUpon

Leave a Reply

45 Comments

  1. I invested £30k of life savings. I was ill health retired and the Financial adviser said to invest this sum of monies would still make me an income. I now have no savings, my health has deteriorated and I have an 18yr old son, who my life savings were for his future, now struggle to keep the roof over my head. I have spoke to my bank re my mortgage and made them aware of my situation in the hope I may see some of my money, but how long my bank will hold out I have no idea. I feel life is not worth living some days as I have let my son down and let someone rob me knowing that was all the monies I had in the world.

  2. Hi Chris’ thank you very much for listening. I just feel I’v had no where to turn and no fundings to instruct a Lawyer as some people have done, and at the end of it I would be more in debit as there would be Lawyers fees and no guarantees that I will get any my investment back the way they are talking. Big investment companies and trusts who have invested will probably get paid out first and the little investors like me will be over-looked and receive nothing as we don’t have corporate lawyers looking after us. Chris I have completed the SFO Questionnaire. Much appreciated Jane…

  3. Hi
    I am having trouble submitting the form. When I press submit I get a message ‘Do I want to leave this page’. I am scared my details may not send if I do this. I was also told to use Andrew Callen but as the above lady says I don’t have the cash and would I be wasting more money?

  4. Like a lot of people, am just a little self employed tiler,who was approached with glossy magazines, and a promise of 13% returns for 5 years, so invested my life savings in this investment, which was a complete scam.. am working harder now than ever, and feel these people should not get a way with peoples hard earned cash. am just hoping that there is someone out there that can help us.

  5. Hi , I too have been suckered into this carbon credits sham , to say I’m mad at myself is taking it lightly .
    I actually spoke to this Joe Harrington (who operates out of Dubai) and asked to meet him in London ,(I am in Scotland ) he agreed in January but has since vanished from the face of the earth like the rest of them , do we not have the security of Barclays Bank as that was where I transferred my monies …..? I honestly believe every single one of us should not let this lie and take a little time to source these cretins and haul them before a court , strip them of their assets and divide it fairly amongst these hard working , honest people who have been duped .

  6. @Steven Duffy – Thanks for this comment. Which company does (did?) Joe Harrington work for? When did you buy the carbon credits? How did the company get in touch with you? What happened when you met Harrington in London?

  7. I am amazed that no one has commented on the even bigger scam perpetrated by Ian Hamilton of Industry RE regarding carbon credits and other investments, who has disappeared off the face of the earth and was at one point stopped by the FSA and his assets frozen, but then released and took the money to Dubai. Action Fraud was involved and liquidators appointed but no action seems to be ongoing to find him. my husband and I invested in Carbon Credits and have lost around £30000, both of us pensioners, and it was my endowment payout. Emerald Knight have much to answer for as their encouragement and poor due diligence to examine investments before promoting them, that has caused much anguish and poverty in a group of people ill equipt to recover their investment.There are some heart rending stories like those above, I tried to get BBC involved but they were not interested.

  8. I have followed your reporting over the last two years since I was caught up in a scam when I invested my money in voluntary carbon credits with ecoSynergies, this company went into liquidation some months after I made the investment. I still have the certification and believe the credits are on the voluntary register in my name but do not have the where for all to attempt to redeem them.
    I have been approached by Oakmount Management in London who claim they would convert the voluntary credits to certified credits and sell these credits at a price I would able to recover my investment but of course it will require an up front charge.

    Having got myself into a market I have little knowledge of can you advise with you knowledge of the industry if this again is another twist in extorting money from the vulnerable.

    Kind Regards
    Tom Arnott

  9. @Tom Arnott – Oakmount Management is running a recovery room scam. There is no way to “convert” voluntary carbon credits to Certified emission reductions (CERs). In any case, CERs are currently selling for €0.42.

  10. Hi
    My husband invested £43,000 in this company on the recommendation of a company who did our will , we had this investigated last year as we thought something was wrong but the fraud police said after speaking to the man who set up the investments that it looked like a great scheme and to hang in there , this was my husbands pension and he is devastated
    Even when we spoke to the gentleman in Glasgow he said that there was a trustee and that our investment would be protected, now we find out we could lose the lot
    To say that my husband is crushed would be a understatement , we are in our sixties and worried sick about our retirement

  11. If I were you lot, I would be concentrating my legal attention on the trustee and their due diligence of the scheme, not to mention their lack of notification regarding the transfer from a FSA authorised firm to a non-regulated firm. The GFI company is in liquidation and you’re unlikely to get anything back from them.

  12. My partner and I invested 90 k in their GFXi forex trading this would have been our pensions as I don’t have a pension. However, when we were told to withdraw our funds, we submitted our forms and no money was forthcoming 3 1/2 yrs later we have only received back around 2% of what we should have been paid we have not even had any where near our capital back. We have fought tooth and nail to get our funds back, there were lots of excuses, we were told problems with Dubai banks and they even paid for 2 members of our group to to out to Dubai to set up an account so they could pay us. I never believed they would but I had a strong hunch about it and was right. I’ve since suffered with very bad back problems from the stress and worry they have caused me. They both promised me personally we would get our money back. I’m very concerned now about the future, how will I manage without any pension!

  13. I am still being pursued by Oakmount Management Partners and ‘The Bank For International Settlements’ telling me that they have converted my Carbon Credits and that my money is in escrow awaiting transfer to me. This is, subject to me paying 9K to release 45K (having also transferred 14K) if it is a scam I cannot believe their bottle, I have accused them of it being a scam and yet they still telephone and write, wanting me to finalize the transaction !

  14. @Paul Hamilton – Please report Oakmount Management Partners to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040. Send all the emails and letters they’ve sent you. And please send a copy to me too (remove your personal details first).

  15. i lost 5k in the belem sky scam although i did get 2 of the £500 rental payments and a £50 thinning out payment.I entered it via emerald knight but all promotional materials were sent by citadel trustees and my payment cheque made out to citadel.If that does not constitute aiding and abetting a scam i would like to know what does.As they were a fsa regulated company at the time then investors should be able to claim from the compensation fund.The fact that they have been allowed to reform as highpoint trustees with their fca regulated status intact tells me that the fca isnt fit for purpose.

  16. I too invested £5,000 in GFXi forex trading in Sept 2010, I was able to withdraw about £2,700 a few months later but i’m still owed money. Does anyone or Chris Lang have any ideas how to get our money back?

  17. Also a Mr James Lau paid for a man to meet all us investors with a view to being paid out. This happened in various places all over the country from Sept to Nov 2013. I have not heard anything further than that. I have heard that some people have been paid and that Mr Bowers supposedly had many millions in bank accounts but just didn’t want to pay out. Does anyone have anything further to add to this? Many thanks in advance.

  18. I invested 20k of my pension into Global Forestry Investments. It was recommend to me by my Financial Advisors who are called Imperium Capital. http://www.imperium-capital.biz/ They convinced me that it was a super safe investment. Imperium Capital are based in Jakarta, Indonesia and target the ExPat community for things like pensions and life insurance etc.

    I have not had a single word of apology from them since the money was lost and no one has kept me informed as to what is being done about the loss of investment.

    Terrible behaviour all round. I trusted them – more fool me!

    I have had no one to help me find out what is going on until I found this website. I am sure I will never see my money again, but I sure hope the people who perpetrated this scam get what’s coming to them.

    If there is anything I can do, I will do it.

    Kind Regards

    Mark

  19. I have received a brochure from Arden Forestry – a company set up in 2014. There are similarities with the investment being investigated here which is making me wary.

  20. I also was told by a financial adviser to invest all my pension pot into GFI as would get a 10% annual return on my investment which was £35K that in October 2012 and not received a penny, now my wife and I are finding it very difficult. I doesn’t look that we will see any of our money back as GFI chaps have declared themselves bankrupt.

  21. My mum invested £50,000 in the Belem Sky project in 2011 she received letters from global forestry investments and title trustees international stating they do not have her bank details on file and that they have had problems with funds from the management company maos seguras. Sadly my mum passed away in 2013 and couldn’t talk about this investment as by this time we knew something was amiss. Through a lawyer dealing with my mum’s estate not that she had much left as it was invested in this scam we contacted title trustees but they never responded. I have just completed the online form to the serious fraud enquiry team. I don’t have any money for a lawyer as I see others have done and the financial advisor who made a lot of money from my mum through this investment has done next to nothing he even stated it’s like “owning a house and you have tenants but they don’t pay the rent you may not be making any money but you still own the house”
    I’m so angry by all this my poor mum was ill and the stress of this investment was just too much for her. I just don’t know who to turn to for help

  22. Try tlw solicitors.co.uk Susan,seem to be dealing with Global Forestry investments no win no fee, worth a go.

  23. Ba, thank you for your response I will make enquiries

  24. These ‘ethical forestry’ investments are a massive scam.
    I heard about a recent scam in Dorset where the organisers made millions. It’s praying on vulnerable, naive and gullible people.

  25. Anyone know anything about Arden Forestry ?

  26. I am also considering an investment with Arden Forestry, does anyone on here have any negative infomation regarding this company?

  27. @oj, @Bob Mortimer and @David Kerr – How did you hear about Arden Forestry? Did Arden Forestry cold call you?

    Arden Forestry is not registered by the FCA, as the company points out on its website:

    Arden Forestry Management Ltd is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and does not offer any advice about any regulated or unregulated investments either within this document or elsewhere. The content of this document has not been approved by an authorised person within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (the Act). Our products are not regulated investments for the purposes of the Act and as such buyers have no access to statutory or regulatory protections such as the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

    Arden Forestry’s registered address, Third Floor, 207 Regent Street, London, W1B 3HH, could be a cause for concern. There are 10,735 companies registered at this address.

  28. I invested £6,500 plus fees in this Belem Sky Project scam via an acquaintance who was working as an asset broker at the time, but he no longer works in that role and I think the company has ceased trading anyway. I feel I have been left high and dry to sort out the mess on my own. I am a single parent with very little in the way of savings. I contacted TLW Solicitors recently, but as my investment was not pension related, they are unable to assist me. I honestly do not know how to pursue this. I have already completed the SFO form. Any suggestions please?

  29. I and 7 others had invested that I know, not mentioned above, had invested in GFXi, the currency trading scam. Between us I think we are owed somewhere in region of £400,000.
    I’ve just come across these postings after not bearing to look at this situation for about 2 years.
    Would love to know the latest, and whether SFO are still inestigating or did James Lau get his comeuppance along with Richard OHanlon, Omari and Skeene. I think they were all in it together.

  30. I and my wife were caught up with this GFI scam. It all started when we decided to up date our Wills. We met this Will writer at a local country fair where his company had a stall, we told one of stall assistance that we wanted update our Wills, He made an appointment for the CEO of the firm to call at our home. After he done with the Will writing, he said that part of his company did finance investments. He had seen how much money we had invested and that it wasn’t making a lot of interest at the time as it was based on the stock market and it wasn’t doing very well. He suggested that we took all of the money out of the investment and put into one he said would a lot better that was Global Forestry Investments, they would be paying out 10% per a year plus a extra 5% on the thinning’s on the 3rd year. This sounded great, so we decided to go with it. We had to purchase the plots at £5000 pounds a plot, we purchased 7 plots £35000, he told us to take our all our life savings as it was one a lifetime investment. This is coming up to 4 years ago. This was a 3 year deal and we get all our money back plus the costs. At the end of the first year there was no money coming though. So I got onto the CEO of Will writing company he told me that had closed the Financial Investment Company, It sounded very fishy, so I got onto Action Fraud and told them what had happened. Then the SFO contacted me about it, and sent a investigator to see me, Where I had to make statements about what had happened. I got onto the SFO recently to find out what is happening. They told it is a very complicated case and would be a long time before it is resolved. Not a lot of help for the rest us investors.

  31. Mike Hubbard – when you say Financial Investment Company, were they an IFA arm or investment introducers ? If there was a UK based qualified financial adviser involved in your decision to invest, even if that company has now gone under or been wound up, you should still be making a formal complaint for redress or a claim via the FSCS.

  32. Hello Tom, I was contacted by Paul Blackmore the CEO of Thy Will Be Done who also owned Alternative Investment Portfolios ltd, who did our WILLS, Then he told us about his investment company. He went on to persuade us to invest all our life savings into Global Forestry Investments as our savings were making very little money at the time, H said GFO would the best investment for us as the returns would be very good. This money was our pension funding. I am at a loss as what to do now as the SFO don’t see very interested in what I have told them. I have given statements to a SFO investigator that came to see us three times. But nothing seems to have happened since. I hope this make sense.

    Kind regards

    Mike

  33. MIke, I think you have a really strong case for mis-selling.

    You need a lawyer, preferably one that will offer a no-win-no-fee solution.

    The Law firm Lucas & Co are acting on a no-win-no-fee basis for victims of the Eco House scam. Give them a call. Good luck.

  34. The reality is that the investors for the Global Forestry Investment Scam. J&O Global Forestry, and the other sckemes set up or backed by Andrew Skeene and Omari Bowers have failed in the UK because the very attorneys have wasted the investors time and money. Omari Bowers and Andrew Skeene have hidden the millions that they stole in a Panama Trust. They have claimed bankruptcy, and are now living very comfortably with this entire situation behind them.

    The attorneys that represented many of the investors only sued for tangibles without confirming anything was present: I.e. Sued GFI for money of which is hidden in Panama, thus nothing could be fund. I.e.. They sued the insurance of Citadel Trust, Mark Bevan and Peter Hutchinson, of which they let the insurance lapse so their was no money to collect. The attorneys failed as they should have sued for the 86% of the assets held by Citadel/Highpoint Trust. This is where the tangible assets of Global Forestry Investments are – the actual teak plantations. Obviously the attorneys did not want to sue for land in Brazil, as what would a UK attorney due with land. Well the first thing he would do is hire a honest company to harvest the wood, pay him self and the investors and then sell the land.

    Today though Global Forestry Investments is using this land that the investors paid for as their own personal land. They have harvested about 30 hectares of trees and put the proceeds in their own pocket. They are using and abusing the investors and are seriously sociopaths without no regard for any of the hundreds of investors that lost so much money.

  35. @Whistleblower – Thanks for this comment. Do you have any evidence to back up these statements, for example, that Skeene and Bowers set up or backed J&O Global Forestry?

  36. I have unfortunately made the error of investing with Arden Forestry. Early September I had my final communication with a David Marshall and checked their website this week where there was a message stating the company was in liquidation and details of the liquidator were linked. Now the website is no longer available. I am going to follow up with the Serious Fraud Squad and report.

  37. I have also made the mistake of ‘investing’ via Arden Forestry – by buying some land ( for which I appear to have a land registry sealed and certified copy) and putting money in the Arden Forestry fund, which I was told was under AIB and afforded financial protection as such. I have read that the company is being liquidated,with concerns it was a ponzi scheme, but can find no information about any contacts or what investors should do.
    Does anyone know anymore, or have any suggestions?
    Does the SFO get involved in cases based in Ireland?
    And is my land registration certificate of any value?

  38. Heather M
    Arden Forestry have indeed gone into liquidation and are under investigation by the Garda.
    If you put into Google the following, there are a number of news reports on this through various Irish newspapers
    arden forestry garda liquidation

    https://fora.ie/arden-forestry-dubai-court-3063921-Nov2016/

    The above link is a good source

    A liquidator has been appointed by the courts – Mr. Declan De Lacy. You need to contact his office promptly.

    These are the contact details for him and his assistant

    PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes
    http://pkf.ie/
    Tel:+353 1 496 1444

    Declan De Lacy
    d.delacy@pkf.ie

    James Gibney
    j.gibney@pkf.ie

    He will require you to email him all your details.

  39. I’m in a similar position with a company called “Living Investments”.

    In 2010 I paid around £12,000 to this company after having seen a flyer in the “New Statesman” magazine advertising investments in “ethical, sustainable” green forestry. As an investor I apparently own sub leases in two plots of timber in Costa Rica. I am supposed to be responsible for their annual maintenance, and the company is supposed to arrange for a local forestry company to invoice me and keep me informed of my investment. After about a year of being subjected to high pressure sales calls trying to get me to buy more plots, I have only ever received invoices from one company for one year, at a cost of just under £500. If I do not maintain the plots of course I apparently lose the right to any returns from the harvest. The service is so appalling that I am now reluctant to throw any more good money after bad, and have asked for a refund of my original investment. The company however, simply string me along with lame excuses for inaction, that’s when I manage to contact them, which isn’t easy when they don’t want to talk to you.

    The deeds for the plots of land are supposedly held in trust by “Title Trustees International”, or TTI. All they do is pass any complaints on to Living Investments, , and a guy named Nick Durrant, who has an answerphone which seems to filter out any calls from people he doesn’t want to, presumably like investors like me, so if you call him he’ll know not to answer
    .

  40. Sitting with one plot of Global Forestry, assume I can forget about that plot. In regards to the other comments I have some questions and info;

    JO Global Forestry Fund – I recently got funds back from them so can´t see the same guys involved. Price increase actually from investment. They are also monthly valued at Bloomberg with quarterly withdrawals.

    Someone that has info about two funds handled by Ardent Fund Solutions; Guardian Beta and Guardian Delta Fund?

    What the latest about White Sands Country Club and St Vincent Reserve?