A MAN who ran a carbon credit scheme that cost members of the public £3million has been banned from being a company director for 15 years.

Lee Thompson, 47, of Furtherwick Road, Canvey, was a director of Worldwide Commodity Partners Limited, which sold voluntary emission reduction carbon credits to members of the public as an investment.

Carbon credits are a method of keeping pollution down by showing that firms or groups have invested in green technologies. They can be traded in complex markets.

An Insolvency Service investigation found that between July 2011 and November 2012, Worldwide sold the credits to members of the public, who lost almost £3million.

Thompson and business partners Andrew Spiteri, 36, of Tower Hill, East London and Stephen Leary, 33, of Finchley, North London, knew - or should have known - the credits they were selling had no potential to show a return.

Spiteri was banned for 15 years and Leary was banned for 14 years.

The disqualifications follow an investigation by the Official Receiver at the Public Interest Unit, a specialist team of the Insolvency Service, whose involvement began with the winding up of the company.

Anthony Hannon, official receiver at the unit, said: “This company made bold, exaggerated claims about the financial advantages of buying carbon credits, but the truth is, the advantage was all in the company’s favour.

“The lengthy disqualifications handed down show this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated by the Insolvency Service nor by the court.”

Although Spiteri and Leary were not formally appointed directors, they had day to day control of sales.

Thompson and Spiteri did not defend the court proceedings. Their disqualifications begin today and mean that they cannot promote, manage, or be a director of a limited company until 2030. The disqualification undertaking given by Leary started on May 10.

Without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification order cannot act as a director of a company, take part - directly or indirectly - in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership or be a receiver of a company’s property.