London based alternative investment companies, Pinecom Services Limited (trading as Pine Commodities) and Pine Commodities Ltd, that took in nearly £2m from the public, have been ordered into liquidation by the High Court on 2 July grounds of public interest.The companies were wound up following an investigation by Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service.
Both companies were found to have continued a business previously shut down in the public interest due to the objectionable trading practices used to ‘sell’ carbon credits to the public for investment. The companies’ methods included making false and misleading statements to persuade people to invest.
The earlier companies forced to close were Tullett Brown Limited, Foxstone Carr Limited and Carvier Limited (see notes 10-12)
The investigation into these successor companies showed that over £1.8 million was raised from the public including sales of precious metals, storage units and diamonds for investment using cold calling techniques.
Welcoming the Court’s winding up decision Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Service, said:
“Contrary to the companies’ claims, their services, in plain English, were designed to rip-off investors”
“I would urge anyone cold-called and invited to invest, in particular those who have already invested with these companies and who may be approached by companies purporting to have been appointed by the Court to deal with their investment, to simply end the call”.
“Nobody should be left in any doubt that the Insolvency Service will continue to take robust action whenever serious failings are discovered and in particular against contemptible companies as here preying on vulnerable investors”.
The investigation found that carbon credits were sold by the two companies in 11 projects around the world and the business involved a bank account in the Seychelles and a UK account operated by a company described as the companies’ accountant as well as the services of a former FCA authorised company SJL Risk Limited now in voluntary liquidation (see note 14).
A website www.pinecommodities.co.uk claimed to provide a fresh approach to investing in the commodities market stating: “We don’t believe in making our clients’ life difficult by providing information filled with incomprehensible terms or language. Our messages are always given in plain simple English”