A FINANCE firm, recently represented by Prince William’s future brother-in-law, has withdrawn a controversial investment project while officials probe its affairs.
Forestry for Life, based at Laindon Barn, Dunton Road, Laindon, was selling investments in rainforest which did not yet exist, the Echo revealed in August.
The company has now agreed to withdraw the product which offered 12 per cent interest guaranteed for three years on minimum deposits of £25,000.
The company has sold the scheme to about 50 clients meaning it has taken in at least £1.25million, based on the minimum investment.
Kate Middleton’s brother, James, 23, was pictured representing the company at a carbon trade exhibition last month.
The Echo left Mr Middleton a message on his Forestry for Life mobile phone, but he did not return the call.
However, Matt Ames, the sole director of the firm, later got in touch to say Mr Middleton was no longer involved with his firm.
Meanwhile a father, 52, and son, 19, who asked not to be named, contacted the Echo and told that they had invested their £45,000 life savings in the product, before asking for it all back within an agreed 14-day cooling off period.
They have so far not been repaid or received any interest.
The pair have now reported the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman and Financial Services Authority, who are investigating the firm.
The company is also facing being dissolved by Companies House within three months because it failed to file legally-required documents on August 8.
Forestry for Life says clients’ money is invested into overseas environmental rainforest projects, which generate carbon credits – similar to shares.
It claims investors’ money is made by the credits being traded for higher prices on green stock exchanges.
However, in August an Echo investigation found the Forestry for Life investment was based around carbon credits which were not up and running – and rainforest the company did not own.
Our undercover reporter was assured by a saleswoman his £25,000 investment would buy him 25,000 carbon credits and it owned more than a million acres of rainforest in Sri Lanka, Brazil and Uganda.
FSA spokesman Chris Hamilton said: “We are still conducting active inquiries.”