UK's Serious Fraud Office secures convictions of two company directors behind fraudulent green teak tree investment schemes in Brazil; about 2,000 investors were scammed of some £37M

Sample article from our Forestry & Timberland

LONDON , May 31, 2022 (press release) –

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has today secured the convictions of the two company directors behind fraudulent green investment schemes in Brazil, which took in approximately £37 million of investments.

An SFO investigation, conducted with assistance from partner agencies across the globe, revealed that Andrew Nathaniel Skeene and Junie Conrad Omari Bowers had deceived around 2,000 investors.

Global Forestry Investments was presented as a secure, well-managed, ethical investment scheme that would help protect the Amazon rainforest and support local communities. In reality, the pair were enriching themselves with the investors’ savings and pensions.

At Southwark Crown Court today, a jury returned guilty verdicts for both Skeene and Bowers for three counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of misconduct in the course of winding up a company.

 

Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: “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 pretence of environmental protection.

“Today’s guilty verdicts on all charges marks a significant step towards achieving justice for over 2,000 victims. We won’t stop fighting fraud and are proud to have brought this matter to justice.”

Notes to editors:

  • The Serious Fraud Office fights complex financial crime to deliver justice for victims and protect the UK’s reputation as a safe place to do business. We investigate and prosecute the most serious or complex cases of fraud, bribery and corruption.
  • The SFO investigation into Global Forestry Investments was announced on 25 February 2015. For more details, see our case page and relevant press releases.
  • Global Forestry Investments established three teak tree investment schemes in Brazil, known as Belem Sky Plantation, Para Sky Plantation and Para Grosso Sky Plantation.
  • The Brazilian Ministério Público Federal provided extensive help to the SFO’s investigation pursuant to mutual legal assistance requests, including with interviews of various Brazilian witnesses across two trips the SFO team made to Brazil.

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Dan Rivard
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