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Ethical Forestry

Ethical Forestry

There was something very tempting about the prospect of investing in the Ethical Forestry Group. Its name suggested this would be perhaps an investment in something that would benefit the planet, it offered a touch of the exotic because the money would be invested in plantations in Costa Rica, and of course there was the chance to add to an existing pension pot via supposedly safe, risk-free investing.

Many of the those who parted with their money did so after being subjected to a persuasive sales pitch from a cold caller. They were shown a slick presentation by someone who had the patter to keep them interested, and before they knew it they were transferring their pension into a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) and taking a gamble that may or may not work out. As we all know now, it definitely didn’t work out at all.

The Ethical Forestry Group was based in Bournemouth and consisted of four separate organisations:

• Ethical Forestry Limited
• EF Forestry Management Limited
• Ethical Forestry Holdings
• EF Sales and Marketing Limited

They had assets in Costa Rica which included plantations and a wood mill. While the sales pitches showcased the potential to make serious returns on your money, in truth it was a high-risk unregulated scheme that led to nothing but misery for a number of investors. Where once their money was nestled comfortably in safe pension schemes that promised them a comfortable future, now they were left in despair as their hard-earned cash started to disappear.

It’s estimated that somewhere around £70 million was invested in Ethical Forestry, although eventually, it may be more than that. The authorities eventually became involved, with investigations by the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority. Ethical Forestry, like many others in similar cases, had used unregulated introducers to persuade investors to sign up.

Huge incentives for unregulated introducers

Given the fact that introducers were earning huge commissions on every sale, it’s not a surprise when you hear how persuasive they were. They could make a small fortune for themselves if they made sales, so the slicker they were the chances are the more successful they would be. Whether these investments were right for the needs of the investor seemed to hardly matter at all.

Many of those who operated investment schemes like this one have been criticised for not carrying out due diligence when accepting investment. There should have been checks on the viability of the schemes themselves, not to mention taking into consideration whether the investor would benefit from buying into the project. Yet again this was a case of something that was too good to be true.

The Ethical Forestry Group has been the subject of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. One of the SFO’s concerns was the payment of large sums of money to its directors in the aftermath of a significant revenue drop for the organisation. This was in 2013. Later, in 2016, the Financial Conduct Authority investigated claims that the group were operating outside of its parameters of authority.

Here at Beat the Banks, we are all too aware of the way that the Ethical Forestry Group carried out their business, and we’ve dealt with a number of disgruntled investors. If you lost money via an investment into this organisation we’d like to hear from you as soon as possible. It’s so easy to start the process, simply complete the online contact form or call 0800 193 1234 and have a chat with a member of our team. It really is that simple.

We hope to hear from you very soon.

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