LONDON, July 11 A British court has ordered two
firms into liquidation after an investigation found they had
made nearly 2 million pounds ($3.4 million) through selling
carbon credits, diamonds and other commodities to investors
using false and misleading information.
Pinecom Services Limited and Pine Commodities Ltd were
ordered closed by the UK High Court on July 2 after they were
found to have continued a business operated by three firms that
were shut in the last two years for similar reasons, Britain's
Insolvency Service said on Friday.
"The grounds for winding up the companies arise from the
connections to companies that this court has previously wound
up, namely Tullett Brown Limited, Foxstone Carr Limited and
Carvier Limited, all of which were engaged in the trade of
selling carbon credits to members of the public," registrar
Christine Derrett of the court said in a ruling, which the
Insolvency Service cited in a statement.
"The companies appear to have been incorporated to take over
the trade of those other (three) companies once they had been
wound up. The two companies are, to use the colloquial term,
'phoenix' companies," she added.
Attempts by Reuters to contact the firms were unsuccessful.
The Insolvency Service, a branch of the UK Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills, administers and investigates
the affairs of bankrupt companies and those wound up by courts.
The agency said Pinecom Services and Pine Commodities sold
carbon credits generated by 11 clean energy projects around the
world, storing the revenues in a bank account in the Seychelles.
It added that the firms made over 1.8 million pounds from
cold-calling potential investors and selling them carbon credits
as well as diamonds, precious metals and storage units as
"Contrary to the companies' claims, their services, in plain
English, were designed to rip off investors," Chris Mayhew,
company investigations supervisor at the Insolvency Service,
said in the statement.
The firms Tullett Brown and Foxstone Carr were shut down in
2012 and Carvier in May 2013 for collectively earning at least 2
million pounds using high-pressure techniques or selling carbon
credits at exaggerated prices to vulnerable, often elderly
investors, the Insolvency Service said.
The High Court said evidence showed that several people
linked to the three firms were directors or worked at Pine
Commodities or Pinecom Services.
An Insolvency Service spokesman said they were able to
re-establish the two new businesses because even though the
three firms were ordered into liquidation, none of the
individuals had been disqualified from acting as directors in
Under UK law, disqualification can take up to two years from
the date a company is ordered into liquidation.
"While the three firms were being liquidated, it appears
that (the individuals) tried to replicate the business model and
do it all again," the spokesman said, adding that he was unable
to confirm whether or not criminal investigations were underway.
Some 37 firms have been ordered into liquidation by courts
since 2012 over claims that they collectively made more than 45
million pounds using high-pressure techniques to sell illiquid
and over-priced carbon credits.
The Insolvency Service has estimated that at least 1,500
British investors have been defrauded by carbon credit sellers.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Michael Szabo; editing by Jane Baird)