A UK and a Gibraltar company, both called Green Planet Investment Limited (Green Planet) - which used former Manchester United and England footballer Lee Sharpe to market a property investment scheme in Brazil taking 14 million from investors, have been ordered into liquidation in the High Court in London in the public interest.
The liquidation, on 20 November 2013, follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Company representatives persuaded nearly 300 investors they were dealing with a large UK registered bank. The salesmen used high pressure sales techniques and made exaggerated promises of 20-30 per cent returns on investment to persuade the investors to buy plots of land and off-plan apartments at three sites in Natal, Brazil known as White Sands Country Club, White Sands Towers and Genipabu Beach Club.
Websites used by Green Planet claimed or implied that Green Planet was an expert in the international property market and had undertaken significant due diligence in relation to the sites. The websites used were:
The sites were also marketed to members of the public who had completed a questionnaire in exchange for a free gift which was a glass of champagne at the top of The Gherkin building in London and which turned out to be a hard sell sales seminar.
Some 140 sales people were engaged by Green Planet together with internal agents recruited by advertisements. One such advert claimed:
Crisis? What crisis? 222% Growth Year on Year. Land, Property, Carbon Credits Junior Broker, Senior Broker and Trainee Sales Positions.
18,000 - 250,000 p.a. (All depends how good you are)
International Group incorporated in 4 worldwide locations with its UK PLC headquarters in 5-story luxury offices in Soho Square are recruiting 20 sales positions due to exceptional business expansion.
You might have experience in selling wine, land, stocks and shares, financial services, precious stones, carpets, carbon credit brokering, business-to-business service industry telemarketing or a variety of other disciplines. Fluent in another language? It can add 50,000 p.a. onto your annual take-home.
International Franchise positions with full support available for the very experienced.
Investors were told that White Sands Country Club would be completed and open by March 2013, that construction of White Sands Towers was underway and would be completed by the end of 2012, and that Genipabu Beach Club would be completed by the end of 2011.
Green Planet director Mr Brett Jolly told investigators that no building work was ever started by Green Planet. Mr Jolly was also a director of carbon credit company Anglo-Capital Partners Ltd which was recently ordered into liquidation by the court on grounds of public interest (see note 10).
Welcoming the courts winding up decisions, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Service Chris Mayhew said:
Green Planet Investment was a slick land investment scheme designed to make money only for those with the company and not the 300 investors who were persuaded by false and misleading statements to invest over 14 million into an investment black hole.
I would urge people to be cautious when contacted out of the blue by cold calling investment sharks earning up to 60 per cent commission whose activities blight peoples lives. As ever, if a scheme sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
The Insolvency Service will not hesitate to take action to shut down unscrupulous companies .