‘Forestry for Life’ Audit showed no evidence of clients’ money invested
Failed Ames’ scheme ‘guaranteed’ 12 percent annual interest
Matt Ames refused to explain investors’ missing £1.2million.
Apparently Harlequin’s David Ames schooled his son Matt in the Harlequin Resorts’ management style and business plans. The younger Matt set up two firms to trade in global warming carbon credits and found
investors suckers to pony up £1.2million – which money is long gone. Fraud charges were laid by police.
Global warming carbon credits: What could be more profitable? (Answer: Just about everything.)
The younger Ames refused to answer questions at creditors’ meetings because reporters were present – so he said. The reality was that he probably didn’t want to further incriminate himself. The destroyed ‘investors’ (mostly ordinary people who had saved money over decades of retirement planning) wanted to know what happened with their missing money. They wanted some accountability as to how much was spent on ‘management expenses’ and ‘promotion’. They wanted to know how much the scheme really made from trading carbon credits so they could tell how much of a real business effort this was.
“Latest accounts for the firms showed no evidence of clients’ money invested, or carbon credits traded.”
From the Echo News article Director of failed firms questioned by investors over missing £1.2million
Investors got nothing from Ames: no answers, no accountability, no respect.
Reading the Echo news article from March, 2011 last year it sure has the smell of another Ponzi scheme where first in investors are paid with new investors’ money. How on earth can anyone guarantee 12 percent interest? The answer is “Only by using new investors’ money to pay off the earlier ones to keep their mouths shut.”
Matt Ames was charged by the Serious Fraud Office, but further details of the story are strangely absent from the internet.
And then we learned that Prince William’s brother-in-law, James Middleton, represented Matt Ames’ company in 2010. Aha! That might explain everything about the absence of followup news stories.
On March 14, 2012 at 13:16hrs, TripAdvisor reader ‘BHP’ said:
Things do seem to be coming to a head – and the Matt Ames Forestry for Life fraud case must be heading to the courts very soon as well. Can Carter Ruck keep a lid on it? – will the past connection to the future king’s brother in law during the Queens Jubillee year be allowed to surface or will the press pass over that?
Harlecon.net has many posts about this part of the Harlequin story, but a visit to the website yields only a message that they have exceeded their bandwidth for the month.
You can try this link if they get back up again.
Director of failed firms questioned by investors over missing £1.2million
11:37am Monday 7th March 2011 in News By Jon Austin
INVESTORS who ploughed £1.2million into two businesses which later went into liquidation turned out at a meeting to quiz its sole director over the companies’ downfall.
Liquidator Begbies Traynor held two separate creditors’ meetings for clients of Forestry for Life and associated company the Investor Club, based in Dunton Road, Laindon.
Forestry for Life offered rainforest carbon credits.
These were traded like shares, with guaranteed 12 per cent interest for three years on minimum £25,000 stakes.
The Investor Club was set up to promote “diverse and alternative”
Both companies are now in liquidation.
A woman owed cash by the Investor Club told the meeting: “It was 25 years of hard work.
We have lost £50,000.“ She asked what happened to the money.
Sole director Matt Ames, 35, of Goldfinch Lane, Thundersley, said he would not answer the question because an Echo reporter was present.
The meeting heard Forestry for Life owes £672,676, including £443,327 to investors and £39,622 tax.
The Investor Club owes £951,237, with £846,494 to investors, and £20,000 tax.
Latest accounts for the firms showed no evidence of clients’ money invested, or carbon credits traded.
Shares held by Mr Ames totalled just £1. Mr Ames said the meeting was called to explain the downfall of the company.
He added other matters, like where money was invested, would be further investigated.
The talks heard the Financial Services Authority started investigating Forestry for Life last July.
In December, the watchdog warned the companies to refund investors’ money, or go into voluntary liquidation. Mr Ames insisted it was not possible to make the refunds, so the company went into liquidation.
Lloyd Biscoe of Begbies Traynor said he would investigate any allegations of breaches of company and insolvency law, before filing a director’s conduct report to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
He said: “It is my job to get to the bottom of this.” Mr Briscoe asked all creditors to contact him on 01702 467255.
Probe into finance firm linked to Prince William’s future brother-in-law
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.”