A London company that offered the public the opportunity to invest in carbon credits or diamonds has been ordered into liquidation in the High Court on grounds of public interest following an investigation by the Insolvency Service and video-linked court evidence from investors.
Mulberry Wynford Ltd claimed to be headquartered in the City of Londons financial district and to also have offices internationally and uniquely positioned to take advantage of current global economic trends and maintain a truly global presence for its clients.
The companys management team was claimed to have over 150 years combined industry experience and to provide unparalleled expertise to its selective commercial, private and high net worth clients across a wide range of products and services.
Its former website www.mulberrywynford.com claimed to offer the latest and most beneficial investment products and services. These were stated to be Diamond and Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRT) opportunities.
The Court heard that far from having the expertise claimed and a global presence, with overseas offices in New York, Hong Kong and Dubai, the reality was limited mail forwarding services at its City of London serviced office registered address and two recorded directors Michael Bashir (37) and Andreas Christodoulou (25).
The company vigorously opposed the winding up action and was initially legally represented, but latterly Mr Bashir and Mr Christodoulou instead both represented the company. At the trial of the matter, High Court Deputy Registrar Garwood admonished them both for their chuckle brothers approach in presenting the companys defence.
Whilst the company initially asserted to the Court that it had not sold carbon credits to the public for investment, the Court heard how the company had nevertheless purchased pre-qualified data from an investor sales leads company and that it had undoubtedly sold carbon credits to members of the public for investment given the evidence heard by the Court from three investors, one UK investor in person and two by video link to the Court from County Cork, Ireland and Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Court heard how the company had recorded its compliance calls to investors (albeit these were not made available by the company) but not its sales calls because of the hundreds of sales calls it made.
The companys terms and conditions required investors who wished to dispose of their investment sold to them by the company to request this in writing to the company. Nevertheless any such requests were incapable of being delivered as the company did not maintain adequate registered office arrangements to receive mail addressed to the company.
The companys terms of business disclaimers together with its compliance calls to investors were found by the Court to be no more than a cover your back arrangement that essentially advised investors that nothing they had read or been told by the company was true, which was indeed the case.
The extent of the overall losses to investors is presently undetermined and the Official Receiver now appointed to administer the winding up of the company will be glad to hear from anyone who has been contacted by this company.
Welcoming the courts winding up decision Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor, said:
This company came to our attention having supplied 500 Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRTs) carbon credits to Windward Capital Limited, a company that was ordered to close in the public interest earlier this year. The credits were ostensibly bought for 300 each as part of Windward Capital Limiteds corporate social responsibility objectives to off-set its own carbon footprint.
Why a company selling carbon credits to the public at inflated prices would itself turn to another sales company for credits in order to voluntarily off-set its carbon emissions and pay 115 times the price that Mulberry Wynford Ltd paid for the credits could not be credibly explained to the Court.
The arrangement was clearly contrived to mask Mulberry Wynford Ltds participation in, and benefit from, Windward Capital Limiteds unscrupulous operations to sell carbon credits to the public for investment, a business which Mulberry Wynford Ltd also separately carried on despite its assertions otherwise.
In doing so the company claimed its core value was to provide the highest calibre services and products to its clients. In truth it specialised in delivering misery to vulnerable investors both here and abroad who were taken in by its lies.
The Insolvency Service will not allow rogue companies to rip-off vulnerable and honest people and, working closely with other regulators, we will investigate abuses and close down companies if they are found to be operating or about to operate against the public interest.
As well as ordering the company into liquidation, Deputy Registrar Garwood also listed the case for a further hearing to decide whether the directors of the company should be made personally responsible for the costs which have been incurred in the case. That hearing will take place in the next few months.