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Millions in Investments Lost Due to 'Ethical' Forestry Fraud

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The Serious Fraud Office has announced that they have opened up criminal investigations into Global Forestry Investments and Global Forex Investments on the basis of fraud.

Headed by Andrew Skeene and Omari Bowers, GFI purchased the Belem Sky Plantation, a teak plantation located in the Pará province of Brazil. Investors were invited to take part in an ‘ethical and financially rewarding’ scheme through the lease of plots on the plantation, and were promised a 10% minimum return on investment within the first year.

It was also assured that investors could leave after three years under an exit strategy, which offered a 5% return on the initial plot purchase price.

Skeene and Bowers also suggested that teak was a commodity similar in value to oil and gold, and that it ‘secretly’ outperformed all other commodities. Throughout their advertisement of the opportunity, they maintained that it was in the interests of rainforest sustainability in Brazil, as well as a way to improve the employment futures and educational facilities for local people in the area.

The investments were accessible to families and pensioners, with the minimum investment amount set at £5,000 per plot in which each 0.1 hectare plot holds 100 trees. Many investors have claimed the scheme was recommended to them by Independent Financial Advisors.

Yet hundreds of the investors have been left wondering where their money has gone, with some claiming that although initially they received payments, no other returns have been seen since.

GFI claimed the payment delays were due to an ‘unusually long rainy season’ and ‘logistical banking issues caused by a regulation in Brazil’.

However, since notifying investors that the ‘administrational complications’ were ‘rectified’ in January 2014, many people are still waiting to be paid, and see no promises for when their money might be returned to them.

Financial mis-selling refers to a product or service being sold to somebody when it isn’t right for them or their circumstances. In some cases, the purchase is made through poor advice, or the risks – as well as other relevant pieces of information – are not made properly clear to the purchaser.

Like with many mis-selling investment schemes, anyone can be caught out. For some investors, the choice to trust their money to schemes such as those offered by Global Forestry Investments is made with the input from an independent financial advisor.

With none of the promised returns materialising, and no sure way of knowing if they’ll get their money back, many investors face losing thousands of pounds of hard-earned pensions, wages and savings.

If you believe you have suffered due to financial mis-selling, TLW Solicitors may be able to help. Our expert financial mis-selling solicitors will be able to discuss your claim with you and offer more information.

To see if you have a claim, call free on 0800 169 5925 or fill our our online enquiry form.

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