THE boss of a “green” investment scheme investigated by the Echo has been banned from being a company director for 13 years.

Matthew Ames, 38, of Goldfinch Lane, Thundersley, ran the Investor Cluband Forestry for Life from a converted farm barn in Dunton Road, Laindon, and attracted a total of around £1.6million from investors.

Both firms offered investment in carbon credits which are generated by conservation projects and then bought and sold like shares by companies keen to offset their carbon emissions. The probe was launched following Echo news reports in August 2010.

Mr Ames was issued with the disqualification order at Southend County Court and cannot now be a director of any limited company until August 2026, when he would be 51.

Company bosses can be disqualified for incompetent or improper actions from a minimum of three years to a maximum of 15, depending on the conduct involved.

The hearing followed a two-year probe by the company investigation branch of the Insolvency Service after both companies went into liquidation in March 2011.

The Investor Club offered investments in Sri Lankan teak tree plantation saplings, which should increase in value as they grow, and also carbon credits.Apublic notice by the Insolvency Service said: “Mr Ames caused (both companies) to trade without want of commercial probity and/or to the detriment of investors.”

It said the Investor Club received more than £1.1million of deposits from February 2009 until the liquidation, while clients paid at least £436,000 into Forestry for Life for a year from March 2010.

Following a separate criminal investigation by the City of London Police, Mr Ames was charged with two counts of fraudulent trading.

He pleaded not guilty to both charges at the Old Bailey in February and was bailed ahead of a trial next month.