Following action in the UK High Court, the FCA has been given permission to obtain money from the defendants and it is looking to identify investors who may be eligible for compensation.
It lists 16 defendants; including six individuals, the estate of a deceased person and nine companies – one of which is in liquidation.
The FCA could sell the defendants’ properties and/or making the them bankrupt to pay back investors.
Asic is assisting the FCA in sharing this information, which may be of interest to those who have invested in either:
- African Land (also known as Agri Capital) – which offered investments in rice farm harvests in Sierra Leone and was run by African Land Limited; or,
- Reforestation Projects (also known as Capital Carbon Credits) – which offered investments in carbon credits intended to be generated from land in Sierra Leone, Brazil and Australia and was run by Reforestation Projects Limited.
The FCA is asking those who invested in the schemes to complete a questionnaire and send relevant documents to the watchdog before 31 March 2019.
Once the UK regulator has processed all of the questionnaires, it will contact investors regarding the High Court application.
The High Court decided in February 2014 that African Land and Reforestation Projects were collective investment schemes, which could not be lawfully operated by the defendants.
In March 2015, the Court of Appeal rejected bid by the defendants to overturn the verdict.
On 28 July 2015, the Supreme Court denied them permission to make a further appeal.
Following these rulings, the High Court gave directions for a further trial to consider misleading statements, the extent of the defendants’ liability and the orders the High Court should make.
This trial took place over 22 days in July and October 2017 and the judgement was handed down on 26 March 2018.
It initially ordered the defendants pay £16.9m ($22.2m ,€19.5m) in compensation. But, following further applications by the FCA to consider further losses from the African Land scheme, the High Court increased the amount to £18.7m.
The defendants applied for permission to appeal the High Court’s decision, but this was denied on 24 April 2018.
Some of the defendants then applied to the Court of Appeal, and these were all refused in October 2018.
The UK financial watchdog said the enforcement process “is likely to take some time”.
“We have obtained new undertakings from, or injunctions against, some of the defendants to ensure that they do not move or spend (dissipate or diminish) assets.
“When the enforcement process has reached a reasonably advanced stage so that we can make a good estimate of the amount we will recover from the defendants, and no later than 30 September 2019, we will apply to the High Court for directions about how and to whom we should distribute the funds we recover.
“Two defendants settled their cases previously and have contributed £33,000 and £200,000 towards compensation.
“We have received this money and will hold it until the High Court issues directions about returning money to affected investors.”