THE BOSS of two “green” finance firms which allegedly took more than £1.2million from investors has been charged with fraud.
Laindon-based Forestry for Life and the Investor Club allegedly took hundreds of thousands of pounds from people who paid into environmental investment schemes involving teak tree plantations and rainforest protection projects.
Matthew Ames, 37, from Goldfinch Lane, Thunderlsey, who ran both businesses from a converted farm barn in Dunton Road, Laindon, has been charged with two counts of fraudulent trading.
The firms were investigated by City of London Police specialist fraud unit following a referral from the Financial Services Authority.
Ames, the sole director of both companies, was arrested at home in September last year.
A police spokesman said: “Matthew Ames has been charged with two counts of fraudulent trading.
This relates to investments made in teak trees concerning The Investor Club and carbon credits for Forestry for Life.”
One charge relates to the Investor Club, which was set up in 2008, which allegedly took £846,494 for investments in teak tree plantations in Sri Lanka.
The other concerns Forestry for Life, set up in 2009, which allegedly took £443,327 from investors keen to protect rainforest in Brazil and other third-world countries.
Forestry for Life allegedly offered guaranteed interest of 12 per cent for three years for minimum £25,000 investments which were said to purchase carbon credits.
Police investigated whether Forestry for Life owned any rainforest land or carbon credits at the time of taking the investments.
Both firms were placed into liquidation in March 2011 with alleged combined debts of more than £1.6million, including trade creditors.
Insolvency practitioner Begbies Traynor, based in Southend, which handled the liquidations allegedly found they had £310 left between them in the bank. It is also separately still investigating the finances on behalf of creditors.