Two directors have been banned after running an 'ethical water' investment scam which saw investors part with more than £800,000, which for some elderly investors represented "a large chunk" of their life savings.
Michael Lee Livesey and Ross Perry, both 41 and from Basildon, Essex, have each been disqualified for 11 years.
They were directors of Global Water Group, which claimed to sell ethically-based investment bonds to support water projects globally.
According to the Insolvency Service the company advertised its bonds online, promising investors it was “a high level network of investors in, and advisers on, issues related to water supply whose members include heads of state, leaders in the global water industry, leading universities and academic institutions, wealth management firms, philanthropists, pension funds and high net worth investors".
Between 2017 and 2020, the company secured at least £800,000 from investors. “For some investors, this represented a significant proportion of their life savings”, the Insolvency Service said.
In October 2019, Perry took over as director from Livesey, putting the business into liquidation in May 2020.
It was then that the liquidator found it couldn’t identify “a single genuine investment”, according to the Insolvency Service.
Upon further investigation, it emerged a £100,000 payment had been made from the company’s account to Perry’s personal bank account.
A further £200,000 had been withdrawn from the company account over a two-year period, from 2018 and 2020, in cash.
Dave Elliott, the Insolvency Service’s chief investigator on the case, said: “This so-called ethical investment scheme was a scam, pure and simple. Sadly, it has robbed a number of elderly people of a large chunk of their life savings.”
He continued: “This case should demonstrate to any other directors who may be tempted to mis-use third-party funds that the Insolvency Service will investigate, and we will also support a criminal prosecution if necessary.”
The government body has issued a number of other bans on company directors this year.
In September, it banned the directors behind Avacade - a case which saw them unlawfully advise investors to transfer £91.8m - after it also found the directors had paid themselves £1.4m during a tax investigation.
And in May, it also banned two directors of a failed investment scheme which took £14m from investors for holiday chalets that were never built.