On 15 November 2016, Dutch journalist Okke Ornstein was arrested when he arrived at Tocumen International Airport in Panama. Monte Friesner, a Canadian who lives in Panama, filed a complaint about what Ornstein had written on his website about Friesner’s business practices. In Panama, defamation is a criminal offence.
A company called EcoPlanet Bamboo (UK) Ltd launched a “bamboo bond” in 2011. Investors were encouraged to hand over their money, which would be used to establish bamboo plantation in Nicaragua.
Camille Rebelo, one of the co-founders of EcoPlanet Bamboo, claimed that an investment of US$50,000 would see a return of 500% over 15 years. “It’s a guaranteed return to the investor”, she said.
Earlier this week two men were jailed for their role in London-based scam companies that sold carbon credits as investments. Michale Foran and Kallan Henry were jailed for four-and-a-half years and one-and-a-half years respectively.
In January 2016, Thorn Medical, a healthcare company, announced that it was planning to list “within the next two months” on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of £350 million. In February 2016, Lord Beaverbrook joined Thorn Medical as Chairman. In October 2016, Thorn Medical wrote to its shareholders to tell them that the company had withdrawn from its listing on the London Stock Exchange, but that a related US company would list on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in January 2017.
I’ve been writing about boiler rooms and investment scams for the last four years. I started in May 2012 with a post about a warning from the Financial Services Authority about the dangers of buying carbon credits as investments.
A 2012 brochure from a company called Ecobamboo Lot makes investing in bamboo look very promising: “A rare opportunity to purchase a Deeded Bamboo Lot in Central America.” The company promised a return of 26% a year: “Bamboo lot owners will receive harvest income starting at year four. The ROI is forecasted at 26% per annual year.” And Ecobamboo Lot plays the green card: “With its exceptional green credentials and high productivity, bamboo is set to become the sustainable timber source of the future.”
Three years ago, I wrote a post about a Dubai-based Eventus Alternatives, a company that specialised in selling carbon credits to retail investors. A week after the post, Eventus Alternatives’ solicitors threatened to sue me for US$250,000. Three years later, the company’s ex-director, Phil Wombwell, wrote a nice email asking me to remove the post.