A pair of directors skimmed millions of pounds from investor cash raised to buy stakes in Brazilian teak plantations.
Junie Bowers,41, and Andrew Skeene, 40, were directors of Global Forestry Investments (GFI), and their business promoted two teak investment schemes in Brazil – the Belem Sky Project and the Para Sky Project.
After complaints from disgruntled investors, the company was investigated by the government’s Insolvency Service.
The probe revealed GFI received nearly £20.2 million from the sale of plots in the Belem Sky Project and £3.8 million from plots sold in the Para Sky Project.
Millions went to private bank accounts
But there was no evidence in GFI’s records that investors in the Belem Sky project received any returns after the first year. In total, they were only paid £709,000.
The company records did not show any investors in the Para Sky Project received a return on their stake.
However, investigators did uncover that investor funds paid to buy the plots were paid to trust companies, and over £13 million arising from the sale of the plots went to the bank accounts of Bowers and Skeene.
The directors explained that they had paid themselves the money to ensure that running and operational costs of GFI could be paid while the company had no bank account.
10-year disqualifications for directors
But investigators found that £8.8 of those monies were used to pay creditors of a Dubai-based company controlled by Bowers and Skeene, which was wound up by the High Court in October 2014.
Anthony Hannon, Official Receiver for the Insolvency Service, said: “Directors who receive investment monies and misapply them for purposes not to the benefit of the company can expect to face the consequences of a lengthy period of disqualification.”
GFI entered compulsory liquidation in March 2014 with debts of £2.1 million.
Both Bowers and Skeene were disqualified as directors for 10 years each.
The Insolvency Service has not commented on if any of the funds have been repaid to investors.
One pensioner slept for six weeks in his car in a bid to demand more than £50,000 from his pension paid to GFI on the promise of a 10% return which never materialised.