TWO Basildon-based water firm bosses ran an ‘ethical water’ scam which took more than £800,000 from investors.

The duo have both been slapped with 11-year banning orders following a government Insolvency Service investigation.

Michael Lee Livesey, 41, and Ross Perry, 41, both from Basildon, were directors of Global Water Group Ltd which claimed to sell ethically based investment bonds to support water projects around the world.

The firmed advertised on the internet and promised investors the company was “a high level network of investors in, and advisers on, issues related to water supply whose members include heads of state, leaders in the global water industry, leading universities and academic institutions, wealth management firms, philanthropists, pension funds and high net worth investors”.

It secured at least £800,000 from investors over a three year period between 2017 and 2020.

For some investors, this represented a significant proportion of their life savings, the Insolvency Service has said.

But when Ross Perry, who had taken over as director from Michael Livesey in October 2019, put the business into liquidation in May 2020, the liquidator was unable to identify a single genuine investment.

Over £200,000 had been withdrawn in cash from the company’s bank account between 2018 and 2020, and a further £100,000 payment had been made directly into Perry’s personal bank account.

Dave Elliott, Chief Investigator of the Insolvency Service, said: “This so-called ethical investment scheme was a scam, pure and simple. Sadly, it has robbed a number of elderly people of a large chunk of their life savings.

“This case should demonstrate to any other directors who may be tempted to misuse third-party funds that the Insolvency Service will investigate, and we will also support a criminal prosecution if necessary.”

Both Livesey and Perry have now signed 11-year disqualification undertakings, which run to 2032.

The order does not stop the individuals from having a job but it stops the pair from acting as if they were a director of a company. The legal wording means it cannot be avoided by changing their job description.

The order also means they must not get other people to manage a company under their instructions. If they do, those people may also be prosecuted.

If the order is breached they could be fined or sent to prison for up to two years and may be disqualified for a further period.