U.K.-based biodiesel firm with West African jatropha plantation, Greenleaf Global, closed down following government investigation that found company misled investors, securing £8.2M
April 16, 2012
– Greenleaf Global plc had previously been put into provisional liquidation in March 2012 (see press release [http://nds.coi.gov.uk/clientmicrosite/Content/Detail.aspx?ClientId=95&NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=423919&SubjectId=36]).
The investigation found the two companies ran a Jartropha Plantation– a bio-diesel project - in the West African country and misled investors by promising high returns on investment while knowing this was not true. Oil extracted from the fruit of mature trees can be used to produce bio-diesel.
The court heard that Greenleaf Togo acted as the main leaseholder of the Jatropha plantation while Greenleaf UK acted as an agent in marketing the scheme to the public. The amounts taken from investors amounted to £8.2million. Plots of land in Togo were leased for the cultivation of Jatropha trees from seedlings. Greenleaf UK had also recently began marketing a scheme in Ghana for the commercial production of maize.
The petitions to wind up the companies were presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills.
The investigation also found:
* the companies were part of a business operating and promoting an unauthorised collective investment scheme in breach of the Financial Services Markets Act 2000 (“FSMA”). The Financial Services Authority (FSA) supported the Secretary of State’s application to wind up Greenleaf UK in the public interest in this respect.
* a number of misleading statements had been made to investors, including claims that they would receive a return on their investments within 12 months, whereas no such returns (from the proceeds of any harvest) had been made. Other misrepresentations included a claim that a harvest had already been undertaken (in June 2010) resulting in returns which had already been paid to investors. Investors were told that they could expect to receive a return of up to 20% in the first year. These expected rates of return were not evidence based.
* Greenleaf UK made, in uniform distribution to various investors, on-account payments at a time when no commercial or other harvest had taken place in respect of the plantation.
Giving judgement in the High Court, Registrar Barber stated that there were “…numerous examples of false misrepresentations in the evidence and that the on account payments to investors were clearly made to encourage further investment in the scheme”.
Commenting on the case, David Hill, Case Manager with Companies Investigations (South) said:
“it was clear, and the court agreed, that these companies set out with a clear intention to mislead would-be investors. This decision sends a clear message that we will continue to crack down on companies which deliberately mislead the public in this way”
Notes to editors
1. On the 28 February 2012, the Secretary of State presented petitions against the two companies seeking an order to wind up the the companies in the public interest under Section 124A Insolvency Act 1986.
2. On 23 March 2012, the Official Receiver was appointed Provisional Liquidator of Greenleaf UK only. The registered office address of Greenleaf Global PLC (Greenleaf UK) is Building 3, Crane Mews, Gould Road, Twickenham, TW2 6RS.
3. The company was incorporated on 4 March 2010. The registered office address of Greenleaf Global Togo Sarl (Greenleaf Togo) is at 900 Avenue Franz Joseph Strauss, Nyekanokapoe, Lome, Togo, West Africa.
4. The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. The Service also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession; deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures; assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees; provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds; and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice. Further information about the work of The Insolvency Service is available from www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency
5. All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: Stuart Tatham, The Insolvency Service, Public Interest Unit, 21 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3SS, PIU.OR@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk .
6. Media queries should be directed to Kathryn Montague, Media Relations Manager, or Ade Daramy, Press Officer on 020 7596 6187.