in UK, USA

London High Court orders Capital Alternatives to repay £16.9 million. New York Southern District Court orders Bar Works and Bitcoin Store to pay US$83.35 million

Capital Alternatives Limited was part of a network of scam companies that offered “investments” to the general public including a rice farm in Sierra Leone, and carbon credits from projects in Sierra Leone, Brazil, and Australia. Last week, the High Court in London found that these “investments” were illegal collective investment schemes.

The High Court also found that between 2009 and 2013, companies in the Capital Alternatives network promoted these “investments” to the public by
“false, misleading and deceptive statements”.

The rice farm in Sierra Leone was operated by African Land (also known as Agri Capital), and the carbon credit schemes by Reforestation Projects (also known as Capital Carbon Credits). According to the Financial Conduct Authority, about 2,500 retail investors were conned into investing in these scams.

In a judgement handed down on 26 March 2018, the High Court ordered Capital Alternatives, Renwick Haddow, Marcia Hargous, Robert McKendrick and others to repay £16.9 million to investors.

Information for investors

On its website, the Financial Conduct Authority states that it has “obtained new undertakings from, or injunctions against some of the Defendants to ensure that they do not dissipate or diminish assets”.

The Financial Conduct Authority has the following information for people conned into investing in Capital Alternatives:

If you invested in the African Land/Agri Capital or Reforestation Projects/Capital Carbon Credits schemes, you may wish to take legal advice.

Please send copies of all documents in relation to your investments in these schemes, including any certificates and evidence of payments made in relation to the schemes to the FCA, either via email at CALInvestors@fca.org.uk or using our freepost address – UBD CAL, FCA, Freepost London 13176, London E14 5BR.

Please be aware that we are not seeking repayments from other investments promoted by or related to Capital Alternatives Limited and we do not need documents relating to any other schemes.

Investors may wish to take legal advice on their individual position in relation to any other products or schemes they have invested in.

In a statement, Mark Steward, Executive Director at FCA Enforcement and Market Oversight Division, said,

“We are acutely aware from experience that the risk to investors who deal with unauthorised firms is that most, if not all, investors are likely only to get a fraction of their money back.

“Consumers should recognise that there are huge risks involved when investing with unauthorised businesses.”

The Financial Conduct Authority started legal action against Capital Alternatives in 2013. In February 2014, the High Court ruled in favour of the Financial Conduct Authority.

Some of the defendants appealed. In 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority won its appeal case against Capital Alternatives.

The trial took place over 22 days and ended in October 2017.

Haddow moves to New York. Continues scamming

None of this legal action stopped Capital Alternative’s head honcho Renwick Haddow from ripping off the public. Haddow moved to New York and in November 2014, created a company called InCrowd Equity Inc.

Haddow hired brokers by advertising on Craigslist. No experience or qualifications needed. These “brokers” cold called people to sell them investments in two more of Haddow’s companies: Bitcoin Store and Bar Works.

In 2017, Haddow’s latest investment scams unravelled and on 30 June 2017 the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a legal complaint against Renwick Haddow, alleging that Haddow defrauded investors out of US$38 million.

In July 2017, AFP reported that Haddow had been arrested in Morocco in response to a notice issued by Interpol on 17 July 2017. He was arrested in Tangiers and transferred to Salé prison near the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

In December 2017, the website FinanceFeeds reported that the US government is in the process of extraditing Haddow and that Haddow had consented to extradition.

In January 2018, Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the New York Southern District Court signed final judgments against three of Haddow’s companies:

  • Bar Works 7th Avenue should pay US$39,506,812.67 to the Securities and Exchange Commission;
  • Bar Works should pay US$42,222,871.67 to the Securities and Exchange Commission; and
  • Bitcoin Store, Inc. should pay US$1,623,179.95 to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

All payments were due within 14 days of the final judgments.
 

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  1. At last justice has prevailed but will the investors get some of theirs monies back, if so how long will it take, many thanks for the justice system.

  2. There is one thing about these scammers- they never stop as they never know when they should stop.

  3. thats great. but what is next ? how will we receive our money back ? I am an investor of bar work. I appreciate if someone can help in this issue.

  4. The outcome of this hearing was that the Judge refused all requests for permission to appeal. The defendants now have until 16th May to appeal that refusal.
    Just to make that clear. The defendants now have a right to appeal to a completely new Judge against the original Judge’s decision not to allow them to appeal his judgement……surely that must be the last throw of the dice.
    Not only was Capital Alternatives Ltd ordered to repay £16.9m, but so too was Renwick Haddow and Marcia Hargous. McKendrick and Meadowcroft (African Land) were ordered to repay £13m and £2m respectively. Ayres and Gibbs (Capital Carbon Credits) were ordered to repay £6m and £3.5m respectively.
    The Judge also commented on the fact that he had only considered the civil case against the defendants. The offences also allow criminal charges to be brought. It remains to be seen whether the UK authorities will now pursue a criminal case against the defendants.