Missing £25m in Brazilian teak investments gets pair banned

Missing £25m in Brazilian teak investments gets pair banned

Two people have been banned from controlling or managing a limited company for a decade over their involvement in Brazilian teak investments.

Junie Bowers and Andrew Skeene were directors of GFI, which traded as Global Forestry Investments, and their business promoted two teak investment schemes in Brazil.

An investigation by The Insolvency Service found GFI received £20,146,631 from the sale of plots in the Belem Sky Project and £3,863,185 from plots sold in the Para Sky Project.

But there was no evidence in GFI’s records or information provided by third parties that the majority of investors in the Belem Sky project received any returns after the first year, with investors receiving only £709,884.69 in total.

And there was no evidence in the company records or information provided by third parties of any returns being made to investors in the Para Sky project.

Investigators discovered that investors’ funds for the purchase of plots was paid to trust companies and more than £13m from the sale of the plots was paid to the bank accounts of Mr Bowers and Mr Skeene.

Anthony Hannon, official receiver for the Insolvency Service, said: "Directors who receive investment monies and misapply them for purposes not to the benefit of the company can expect to face the consequences of a lengthy period of disqualification."

The two directors explained that they had paid themselves the money as it helped ensure that running and operational costs of GFI could be paid whilst the company had no bank account.

But investigators found that £8,820,311 of the money was used to pay creditors of a Dubai-based company controlled by Mr Bowers, 41, and Mr Skeene, 40, which was wound up by the High Court in October 2014.

The Insolvency Service found the pair caused or allowed the company to operate with a lack of commercial probity from 24 September 2010 until the company ceased trading in March 2014, following a compulsory liquidation.

The Serious Fraud Office began investigating GFI in 2015.