UK Court Convicts Two for Fraudulent Green Investment Scheme

A London court convicted two former directors of a green investment scheme, finding them guilty of cheating investors out of 37 million British pounds (US$46.54 million) by promoting a Brazilian forestry plan.

Amazon Rainforest FraudFraudsters promised to invest people's money in Amazon rainforest. (Photo: Ivan Mlinaric, Flickr, License)The U.K. anti-fraud, bribery and corruption authority – the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) – secured the convictions last week before the Southwark Crown Court after its international investigation revealed that Andrew Nathaniel Skeene and Junie Conrad Omari Bowers had deceived around 2,000 investors, the office said in a statement.

The two men marketed their Global Forestry Investments as a safe, well-managed, green investment scheme that would help maintain the Amazon rainforest and benefit local communities.

The couple were actually benefiting themselves with the investors’ savings and pensions, according to SFO.

“Our international investigation exposed an intricate web of money transfers, forged documents and invented identities used to scam pensioners and savers out of their money under the false pretense of environmental protection,” the SFO Director, Lisa Osofsky, said.

The company had three Brazilian teak tree investment schemes called Belem Sky Plantation, Para Sky Plantation, and Para Grosso Sky Plantation. According to its LinkedIn profile, it had offices in Sao Paulo, Brazil, London, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.

The SFO launched the investigation into Global Forestry Investments in February 2015, with the extensive help of the Brazilian Ministério Público Federal.

The SFO pressed charges against Skeene and Bowers in July 2019, including three counts of conspiracy to defraud; four counts of using a copy of a false instrument; misconduct in the course of winding up; and making a false statement without oath.